Volleyball rally hopes dashed by undefeated IU Kokomo

Despite their best effort in the third set, the Grenadiers lose in their second sweep in as many matches


Brandon Miniard

Freshman Brandy Eisenback waits for the signal to serve during the Grenadiers’ volleyball match against IU Kokomo.

Erik Hackman and Brandon Miniard

After suffering a sweep at the paws of IU East on Saturday, Oct. 17, the IU Southeast Volleyball team returned to the Activities Building to welcome yet another undefeated squad in River States Conference rival IU Kokomo on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The Cougars, who have been an RSC juggernaut in the last handful of seasons, came into the matchup 10-0 (8-0 RSC). While the Grenadiers came close to winning the third set, the Cougars instead continued their dominance by sweeping the Grenadiers.

“Every time, we get so close [against Kokomo],” Head Coach Eric Brian said. “We just gave up a couple of streaks in the second and third sets, which made the difference in the outcome.”

The first set saw the Grenadiers and Cougars evenly matched early before the latter pushed ahead courtesy of a 15-6 run. Despite kills from Izzy Stallard and Delaney Nichols, the Grenadiers were unable to close the deficit, falling in the first period 25-14.

The Cougars wasted no time starting the second set, kicking it off with an 11-3 surge, scoring 13 of the first 19 total points. The Grenadiers rallied to shrink the deficit to as low as 21-20, but the Cougars responded by scoring four of the last five points to take the second period 25-21.

In the third set, the Grenadiers showed some life by starting the period with an 8-2 run, racing out to an 18-11 advantage. The Cougars showed resilience of their own by roaring back with an 11-2 surge, taking advantage of multiple attack errors en route to a 25-22 victory to complete the sweep.

“They wanted to win, they’re not going to back down,” Brian said of his team’s third set performance. “They went after it because they were sticking to things that they knew worked, despite the outcome.”

The Cougars had a slight advantage in kills 40-32, paced by Lizzie Sokeland and Lorelei Porter with 12 each. Macee Rudy, the reigning RSC Defensive Player of the Year, led the way defensively with 21 digs. 

Nichols led the Grenadiers with 11 kills, followed by Stallard’s nine and Alexis Bassett’s seven. Setter Hannah Sipe notched 30 assists, bringing her career total to 3,242, the second-most in program history.

“I think we were beginning to understand what spots were open in the later sets,” Sipe said. “We are definitely improving, we just need to control our side of the court and not worry about how fast [Kokomo’s] side of the court is.”

Libero Kenna Burman inches closer to program history despite the loss. The senior notched 18 digs, bringing her career total 1,977, 16 away from Bobbi Malott’s program record of 1,993.

With the victory, the Cougars moved to 11-0 (9-0 RSC), while the Grenadiers dropped to 4-5 (4-5 RSC).

The match against the Cougars was only the first match of a three-game week for the Grenadiers. On Thursday, they welcome Lindsey Wilson College to the Activities Building for a 7 p.m. start, followed by RSC rival Brescia University on Saturday at noon.