Omaha volleyball beats Western Illinois and Fort Wayne

Photo by Dayna Berry

Sam Lauritsen

Omaha volleyball extended their winning streak this weekend to three with victories over Western Illinois and Fort Wayne. The Mavericks are now 9-14 overall and 6-4 in conference play.

On Oct. 27, Omaha started the weekend with a 3-0 sweep over Western Illinois for their second win of the season over the Leathernecks.

The Mavericks came in hot behind the solid serving of sophomore Meagen Roth which led to an 8-0 lead in the first set. Omaha finished off the set strong, 25-13.

The Mav’s serving was led by Roth who had a career high five aces on the night. She said, “I knew my team had my back no matter what, so I just went back and served with confidence.”

Set two came around and it was similar. The Mavericks built an 8-2 lead early and fought tooth and nail to hold on 25-19 to win the set.

These fast starts have become a trademark for this team, and senior setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy said, “I think [fast starts] really help us. We definitely get momentum from that and keep pushing. We were tired of our little losing streak and after last week’s win, it felt really good to win and we don’t want to feel like we did a couple of weeks ago.”

As usual, set three started with a quick 8-0 lead for Omaha. The Mavericks kept their intensity high and rolled through the third set 25-8. This wrapped up the match in just under an hour and a half. Omaha was dominant all night and used the momentum from the home crowd to its advantage.

Head Coach Rose Shires said, “We love playing in Omaha whether we are in Baxter Arena or Sapp Fieldhouse. We feel very confident and comfortable playing here.”

As a team, Omaha hit a season high .367 and held Western Illinois to an opponent season low .081 hitting percentage.

O’Shaughnessy said, “We were feeling confident going into this weekend. We had a really hard week of practices, really fast paced, but we practiced and prepared really well so our confidence was super high.”

The second match for the weekend was against Fort Wayne on Oct. 28. Omaha defeated Fort Wayne 3-1 in an extremely competitive four set match for their second win over the Mastodons for the season.

The first set was the first and only set the Mavericks lost all weekend, and it was a doozy. It was twice knotted at 12-12 and 27-27 before Fort Wayne took the first 29-27 in overtime.

In the second set, both the Mavericks and Mastodons went on long scoring runs inevitably leaving it tied at 25-25. This time, the Mavericks came out on top 27-25 with some clutch play down the stretch.

Omaha turned the tables in the third set as they increased their intensity for this crucial set. The Mavericks took off from the get go and worked out to an 18-9 advantage. Omaha held on to the huge lead and took the set 25-16.

The fourth set was decidedly closer, featuring 16 ties and four lead changes. This back-and-forth play continued throughout the set until the last tie of the set locked it at 23-23. Once again, Omaha came up clutch and won the set 25-23 for the 3-1 match victory.

O’Shaughnessy stood out for her individual performance with 47 assists on the night. This weekend she moved into third all-time for assists in Maverick volleyball history. She said, “I’m pretty jazzed. It’s super cool, and my goal has always been to get to number two all-time in Maverick history. It feels great to impact the team.”

This was a much-needed successful weekend for the Mavericks, as they clinched a spot in the conference tournament. Omaha opens its final road swing of the regular season on Nov. 3, visiting South Dakota, as they fight for seeding in the much-anticipated conference championship.