BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – On a stormy Thursday evening, the Indiana University Kokomo Cougars women’s volleyball squad showed a little thunder of its own with a straight set victory over the visiting Crimson Wave of Calumet College of St. Joseph, 25-19, 25-13, 25-15. The victory in Cougar Gymnasium ended a two-game skid for the Cougars as IUK returned home for the first time in 13 matches.
“I was pleased with the way we recovered,” said IUK head coach Heather Hayes. “After losing to IU East, our girls took it pretty hard and we didn’t play up to our capability. But we moved forward and I am proud of how we recovered.
“It was a long road trip and it is nice to get back in front of the home crowd. I want to thank the crowd because they really come out and support us. It was a phenomenal crowd tonight and I hope they keep coming.”
The Cougars jumped to a quick 2-0 lead on the serve of freshman Teylor Rains (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) and kills from Micayla Speidel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) and Megan Riley (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine). CCSJ came back and grabbed its only lead of the entire evening at 5-4. But a kill off the arm of Rachel Allen (Lizton, Ind./Tri-West) followed by a service ace from Lael Burrus (Denver, Ind./North Miami) allowed IUK to regain the lead. The Crimson Wave cut the lead to 9-8, but a surprise kill from the middle of the court by Allen, followed by a Riley kill and Speidel block stretched the lead to four and the Cougars cruised to a first set win.
“We played well; we played up to our capability,” said Hayes. “We played seven matches this week and have two more this weekend, so I am really thrilled with how we played.”
The Cougars started hot in the second game, leading 4-1 following a kill from Kaleigh Ensley (Fort Wayne, Ind./Snider). CCSJ answered with three points to tie the game at four, but Burrus – the IUK defensive specialist at the libero position – rattled off six consecutive service points. The Crimson Wave scored to cut the lead to 11-5 only to see Shelby Spall (Kokomo, Ind./Western) begin a six point rally with Allen serving to put the game away. Three service points from Cortney Hanson (Logansport, Ind./Pioneer) gave the Cougars a 14-point lead and Keeana Walton (Peru, Ind./Maconaquah) ended the CCSJ misery with a game-winning kill.
Game three was close for the first 15 points as the Cougars bench saw some much-earned playing time. Leading 8-7, Kokomo freshman Kaley Harness (LaFontaine, Ind./Southwood) put the game away with six straight service points with a little help from a pair of kills and a block from Speidel.
“Our girls are exhausted and we knew we wanted to try and get some people some rest tonight,” said Hayes. “It is nice to have a really deep team. They don’t all get an opportunity to get in every night, so it was nice they could get everyone a chance to make contributions.”
Hanson led IUK with 24 assists and nine digs, while Speidel led the Cougars with 12 kills and two block assists. Ensley topped IUK with three service aces. Burrus and Harness added seven digs each while Harness also had five kills. Allen had seven kills and four digs and Spall ended the night with six kills.
IU Kokomo (16-3, 4-1 Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) travels to Asbury College on Sept. 21 for a split doubleheader with Asbury and Cincinnati Christian University. They return to Cougar Gym on Sept. 25 for a 7 p.m. contest against Cincinnati Christian.