Volleyball fights hard early on


Billiken Athletics

Senior outside hitter Nenye Okoro sends the ball over the net against Bradley. Volleyball won this exhbition game 3-1, before going 0-6 in their first six games.

The Billikens Volleyball team opened the 2017 season with hard-fought matches against high-skilled opponents in Utah in late August playing ranked BYU and Ohio State and taking UTRGV to a fourth set. Play continued back at home for the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic in Chaifetz Arena where the team dropped all three making their current record 0-6.

Against BYU, senior Lauren Leverenz put up a .750 attack percentage with 13 kills and only one error while Mackenzie Long led the team with 13 digs. The Billikens dropped all three sets to the #10 Cougars on the road in Provo. In the second match of the day the team took #21 Ohio State to a fourth set by winning a tight second set 25-23. Freshman, Maya Taylor, had 12 kills on 25 attempts with only five errors in her first game as a Billiken.

The team finished its road trip in Utah with a 3-1 loss to UTRGV. Nenye Okoro had 20 kills in the match and totaled 45 in the first three matches. Camila Rivas posted 45 assists and 13 digs for SLU’s first double-double of the season.

The Billikens returned home for their first game in Chaifetz Arena on Sept. 1 against Illinois State for the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic. The team lost in three sets in front of a home crowd.

The following day the Billikens hosted UC Irvine and Kennesaw State which ended after four and three sets respectively. Against UC Irvine, Taylor lead the team in kills with 12 and a .345 attack percentage and Sien Gallop opened the fourth set with five consecutive service aces. Taylor also lead in kills against Kennesaw State with 14 while Okoro had 13 digs on defense. Despite an unfavorable team record for the weekend, junior Camila Rivas was named as an All-Tournament selection and the Billikens posted 17 aces in three matches with Sien Gallop leading with eight.

Team leaders six games into the season are Okoro with 59 kills followed by Leverenz with 54 and Taylor with 53. Okoro, and Leverenz are also tied with Lauren Mershon with 13 blocks and Makenzie Long leads with 67 digs followed by Okoro with 43 and Rivas with 31.

The team will travel to Bowling Green, Ky. next to play Pittsburgh, ETSU, and Western Kentucky Sept. 8 and 9.

The Bilikens return to Chaifetz Fri., Sept. 15 against DePaul at 7:00 p.m.