The Mount Vernon Nazarene University volleyball team wrapped up the weekend at the Robert Morris University (Ill) Invitational with two more wins and improved to 4-0 to open the 2015 season. The Lady Cougars started the day with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-6, 25-11) triumph over host Robert Morris followed by a 3-0 (25-11, 25-21, 25-7) victory against Governors State (Ill.) to close the day. MVNU not only won all four matches this weekend, but did so by sweeping all their opponents.

Match One: Robert Morris

MVNU (4-0) took advantage of quick starts to build momentum all weekend and that was certainly the case against Robert Morris (0-3) in Saturday’s first match. After surrendering the first point of set one, the Lady Cougars engineered an 8-2 run to go up 8-3. The scoring burst culminated on a perfect serve by Emily Rahe for an ace.

The Lady Eagles battled back to within four points at 12-8 on a couple of MVNU errors, but that’s as close as they would get the rest of the set. The Lady Cougars responded with a strong 8-0 run to increase the gap to 20-8. Annelise Rohrer had a couple of key kills and Marlowe Beatty delivered a pair of service aces to power the run. MVNU then held on to win 25-14 with the final point coming on an RMU service error.

MVNU reeled off the first three points in the second set and maintained a 6-3 edge with the first nine points in the book. The Lady Cougars then used another 8-0 run to establish a strong foothold in the set. Ashley Gingerich got things rolling with a kill while kills from Alyson Near and Kristen Osborn also contributed to the run. Leading 14-3, MVNU outscored the Lady Eagles 11-3 the rest of the way en route to a 2-0 match lead. The final point in set two came on a service ace by Osborn.

Robert Morris remained within striking distance early in game three and trailed MVNU by just two points at 7-5 after a kill from Jenna Daugherty. Four straight points by the Lady Cougars pushed the lead to 11-5 and then MVNU recorded six of the next eight points to build a 17-7 advantage. Rohrer, McCullough, and Carolyn Beatty all led the charge with key points on kills. The Lady Cougars went on for a 25-11 win in game three with Near clinching the set and the match with a kill.

Rohrer guided all players with a game high 13 kills in 23 attack attempts (.478). Near collected nine kills (.600) while Gingerich and Kelsey Bryte chipped in with five kills apiece. Marlowe Beatty served up three aces and paced the defense with 16 digs. Osborn also contributed two aces and halted multiple RMU attacks thanks to 15 digs. Emily Rahe and Bridget Troyer both had 13 assists and Carolyn Beatty also assisted on seven kills.

As a team, MVNU ended the RMU match with 40 kills while limiting the attack errors to just six. The hitting percentage was .395 thanks to the efficiency of the offense. The Lady Cougars also had six aces and defensively they picked up 43 digs and had eight block assists.

Alyssa Harkema led the Lady Eagles with six kills followed by Shana Puetz and Hannah Wagner with four kills each. Grace Konovodoff had a team high eight assists while Mart Tabaka recorded eight digs for the defense. MVNU’s defense limited Robert Morris to a .038 hitting percentage in the match.

Match Two: Governors State

MVNU established a quick lead in the first set by claiming nine of the first 12 points. McCullough, Osborn, and Grace Tucker had kills while McCullough along with Osborn teamed up for block assists on the ninth point. The Lady Cougars extended their lead to double digits at 16-6 on a Lady Jaguar error and then a service ace by Gingerich gave MVNU its largest lead of the set at 24-9. Following two Governors State points, Tucker closed game one with a kill for the Lady Cougars.

For one of the only times this weekend, MVNU found itself having to play from behind in game two. The Lady Jaguars scored six of the first eight points to go in front 6-2. However, the Lady Cougars responded with the next six points in a row to swing the momentum back in their favor. Madeline Hire had a pair of kills while McCullough and Tucker picked up a kill apiece in the scoring burst.

MVNU kept the lead for the rest of the set, but Governors State continued to stay within striking distance. The Lady Cougars created a five point cushion at 20-15 on back to back kills by Tucker, but the Lady Jaguars closed to within one point at 22-21 on an ace from Briana Holden. MVNU then took advantage of three Governors State errors to end game two and carry a 2-0 lead into set three.

Kills by McCullough and Hire sparked a quick 4-0 run out of the gate in game three followed by a kill from Tucker to make it 9-1 in favor of the Lady Cougars. MVNU increased the advantage to 16-6 on an ace by Gingerich and eventually pulled away for a 25-7 decision. Mariah Kick was credited with the game and match clinching kill on the final Lady Cougar point.

Tucker powered the MVNU offense with 10 kills in 17 attempts (.412) followed by McCullough with eight kills on ten attack attempts (.800). Hire also chipped in with six kills while Troyer dished out 19 assists. Gingerich had four aces to go along with five digs on the defensive side of the net. McCullough had three digs and was a strong presence defensively at the net with one solo block and two block assists. Carolyn Beatty had a team high seven digs and Marlowe Beatty tacked on six digs.

As a team, MVNU produced 37 kills (.351), 35 assists, seven aces, 36 digs, and 4.5 blocks in the final match of the weekend.

Erika Halverson was the top attacker for Governors State by landing seven kills in the contest.

Savik Salgado recorded 22 assists and Briana Clark had a team best 10 digs.

MVNU will be back in action on Tuesday night when the team travels to Ohio Christian University for another non-conference match at 6:30 PM.