Volleyball ready for tourney

This weekend the Lady Eagles will travel to Baldwin City, Kan. with an 8-1 record. There they will face off with four other teams. Their first game is against Graceland University (Iowa) and is likely to be the most competitive game of the tournament.

Graceland is ranked 17th in the NAIA Division I, along with being ranked first in the Heart of America Conference. John Brown University is ranked 25th in Division I and is first in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

For JBU, senior Erin Didier is currently leading the Lady Eagle’s offensively with 139 total kills, followed by fellow senior Audrey Deardien with 125. Didier also had the most kills of any team in last week’s tournament.

While talking about JBU’s performance last weekend, Head Coach Staci Johnson said part of the reason these two were able to make so many kills was due to the team’s passing.

“Communications amongst our defense has been the key to our successful passing,” said Johnson. “Not only do the great passes allow us to feed our outside hitters the ball, but our middle blockers, Erin [McIlroy] and Libby [Blasingame], do a phenomenal job of holding the block.”

Johnson went on say that this gives Didier and Deardien a one-on-one ball to translate into another kill for the Lady Eagles.

Sophomore Becca Young is currently leading JBU defensively with 99 total digs, followed by Didier with 86.

Graceland currently sits at 2-0 after their last match against Avila (Mo.). Their current leaders on offense are Kendra Martin with seven kills, followed by Kelsi Martin with six. On the defensive, Kelsi leads in digs with 17 total and also holds four blocks, just short of Allie Krabbenhoft who has five and is even with Moriah Jones.

As a team they are ranked first in NAIA Division I for blocks per game while Kendra Martin is second in the division for her hitting percentage.

The Lady Eagles will play Benedictine (Kan.) after their match against Graceland on Friday.

For Benedictine, who had a record of 1-6 as of press time, Karlie Dalton is currently leading her team offensively with 38 kills followed by teammate Carly Steinlage with 27. Cassie Rockers leads defensively with 67 digs followed by Sara Navinskey with 24.

Benedictine has only faced one team, Doane (Neb.) with a truly substantial winning record of 11-1. Benedictine is currently ranked second to last in the Heart of America Conference, directly above Central Methodist (Mo.).

After facing Graceland and Benedictine on Friday, JBU will take on Baker (Kan.) and Friends (Kan.) on Saturday.

Baker, also in the Heart of America Conference, sits at 4-4 while Friends has a record of 0-4 as of press time.

Crystal Simons of Baker is currently leading in kills with 68 after passing teammate Savannah Smith who has 66 total kills. Renata Dill leads defensively with a total of 131 digs followed by Simons with 81.

Baker depends on their defensive play, with a high number of blocks and digs per game, especially from Danielle French who is ranked ninth in Division I for her 37 total blocks.

Friends is currently eighth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference. Out of their four losses, three have ended without Friends winning a single set.

Jada Witham leads her team in kill with 38 while teammate Crystal Taporco follows with 25 total kills. Defensively, Bailey Burnett leads with 43 digs followed closely by Ila Sturges with 40.

The first game of this weekend’s tournament will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday with the Lady Eagles facing Graceland on Court 1 while Benedictine faces Friends on Court 2.