Volleyball finds success at Illini Classic

By: Isabel Smith ~Staff Writer~

The Xavier volleyball team opened its season at the Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill., at Huff Hall. The team moved to 2-1 following wins over Arkansas and Missouri State and a loss against the home team, No. 14 Illinois.

Xavier started play at the Illini Classic with a match against Missouri State. The Musketeers defeated the opposition in five sets, 3-2. The Bears captured the first two sets before Xavier came back to win the final three 25-23, 25-17 and 16-14. The Musketeers showcased their talent with three players posting double-figure kills. Redshirt senior right-side Sofia Peterson not only had a team-high .400 hitting percentage but also marked a career-high 17 kills.

On day two, the Musketeers faced the host team and dropped the match in four sets. Xavier gained solid experience playing top talent early in the season to prepare them for conference play.

Though Xavier fell to the Fighting Illini, senior outside hitter Abbey Bessler had her second double-double of the season and the 54th of her career. Redshirt junior Mackenzi Humm also had a notable performance with a teamhigh 28 assists paired with seven digs.

The Musketeers closed out the tournament on day three with a four-set win against Arkansas. In the match, Xavier hit .329, the Musketeer’s highest hitting percentage in almost a year since a conference win against Georgetown in October 2015 (.477 hitting percentage).

Xavier started the match strong in set one, hitting .500 with 17 kills. Arkansas never took the lead, and the Musketeers won the set 25-17.

Photo courtesy of Tom vonAhlefeld | Abbey Bessler (above) is coming off of an outstanding 2015 season in which she was named the Big East Player of the Year.

The Razorbacks came back to win the second set, 25-22. Xavier was unable to take the lead and hit its lowest hitting percentage of the day with .143.

The Musketeers used set two as motivation to come back strong in the third game. They went on an impressive 15-4 run to take the lead to 21-9. They concluded the set with a 25-14 win and a .469 hitting percentage. Bessler had six kills.

Xavier sealed the deal in the fourth frame, but the Razorbacks didn’t go down without a fight. The set had three lead changes and six ties. At one time, Xavier led by seven before Arkansas got back within three points. Sophomore outside hitter Laura Grossman and Peterson had kills to secure the victory for the Musketeers.

Xavier returns to action on Sept. 2 at Dayton as part of the Dayton Invitational.