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Volleyball Beats UIC in HL Championship, Prepares for NCAA Tournament

WSU Women's volleyball team is Horizon League 2020 champions.

WSU Women’s Volleyball Horizon League champions | Horizon League

The Horizon League volleyball season is officially over, and Wright State University (WSU) secured the Championship over the weekend, going 16-0 this year in Horizon League play while only dropping seven sets all season. 

WSU took down 14-1 UIC in a five-set thriller, winning the last two sets as the Flames took sets one and three of the match for a 2-1 set lead. 

After winning the first HL championship in program history, WSU volleyball is headed to the NCAA tournament for the second time in a row to take on Samford. 

Tournament honors and performances 

The Raiders had excellent performances from several of their players, starting with tournament MVP Nyssa Baker. 

Baker totaled over 30 kills and 16 blocks in both of WSU’s tournament games, securing a 12th place spot in the nation in blocks per set. 

Hitters Mallory Ladd and Celia Powers were both named to the All-Tournament team, as Ladd led the Raiders against UIC with 15 kills, and Powers played well on both offense and defense, totaling 17 kills and 33 digs in both matches. 

Setter of the Year Lainey Stephenson totaled 70 assists with 30 against IPFW and 40 against UIC, where UIC’s assist leader only had 22. 

Jenna Story led the Raiders’ defense in both matches, currently sitting third in the nation in digs per set. 

Four Raiders (Story, Powers, Stephenson, and Ellee Ruskaup) all had double-digit digs against UIC. 

Sophomore Sam Wolf was the surprise for UIC, tallying 10 kills off of the bench for WSU to turn the game back in their favor. 

Headed to Omaha 

The Raiders will take on the Samford Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA tournament on April 14. The winner of that matchup will take on the University of Texas the next day. 

The Bulldogs represent the Southern Conference after winning their third straight title and have won four of the last five conference championships under head coach Keylor Chan. 

Outside Hitter Lauren Deaton is Samford’s biggest threat, who was named the SoCon Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and SoCon Player of the Year. Deaton leads the Southern Conference in kills per set, and also ranks eighth nationally in the stat.  

Kenya McQuirter was named the Conference’s Freshman of the Year, backing up Deaton with almost 150 kills in the regular season. 

This matchup will come down to if the four WSU players who totaled double-digit digs against UIC will be able to stop Deaton and McQuirter, as WSU’s outside hitters work to get them an advantage. 

Noah Kindig

Sports Reporter