Luth leads Storm to volleyball sweep on opening day

Luth leads Storm to volleyball sweep on opening day

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - Jacqueline Luth hit .295 with 25 kills, the Simpson defense held its opponents to a .096 attack percentage, and the Storm won six straight sets to open the season, beating MacMurray and tournament host Illinois College at the Illinois College Invitational on Friday.

Despite winning in straight sets, the wins didn't come easy for the Storm (2-0), who beat MacMurray 25-21, 25-20, 29-27 and Illinois College 25-22, 27-25, 25-23.

Returning only three starters from last year's team, Lana Smith's squad featured a young lineup Friday. Six freshmen saw significant playing time, including a pair of setters in Natalie Stadler and Alyssa Mathews. Employing a 6-2 offense featuring two setters - a rarity for Smith - the duo accounted for 55 assists on the night. Mathews finished with 34 and Stadler had 21.

Sophomore junior college transfer Madison Endsley finished the day with 16 kills and freshman Indianola-product Hannah Lester had a team-high five blocks to lead the Simpson defense. Simpson had 11 total blocks as a team, getting four block assists each from Luth, Niki Dean and freshman Katrina Hartman.

Luth had 13 kills in the opener against MacMurray and the Simpson defense forced the opposition into 25 errors. Matthews had 14 assists, Kayla Aronow had 23 digs and Endsley chipped in with seven kills. MacMurray had three more kills as a team, but hit just .045 for the match.

Luth stayed consistent with 12 kills in the nightcap against host Illinois College, adding 10 digs and three blocks. Endsley had nine kills and Matthews led the way with 20 assists. Chelsey Smith had three aces.

Simpson trailed early in the first set before mounting an 8-1 run to take control. The Storm faced set-point at 24-22 in a crucial second set before Endsley rattled off three-straight kills. Kills by Dean and Luth sealed the win. The third set was tied at 22-all before a pair of errors by the Lady Blues gave Simpson a 24-22 edge. Ty Duve closed it out with a kill.

Up next: Simpson plays Concordia Chicago and Missouri Valley on Saturday to close the tournament. The Concordia match is set to start at 10 a.m. while the Missouri Valley contest gets underway at Noon.