Volleyball takes second in UIC Invitational

Nicole Johnson sets the ball for teammate Sara Jo Sternard

Nicole Johnson sets the ball for teammate Sara Jo Sternard. Photo: Timothy Nguyen

The volleyball team (4-7) split its matches to finish in second place in the UIC Invitational at the Flames Athletic Center.

The Flames won their first two matches Friday against Indiana, 3-2, and Eastern Kentucky, 3-1, but dropped both matches Saturday, falling to first-place Buffalo, 3-1, and Western Illinois, 3-2.

The team heads to Pennsylvania this week to compete in the Penn State Alumni Classic Friday and Saturday.

In Friday’s matches, junior middle blocker Stephenee Yancy was an imposing force at the net with 38 kills and seven blocks. She had 19 kills in both matches and extended her double-digit kill streak to nine matches.

Senior Sara Jo Sternard teamed with Yancy to control the middle of the net with 33 kills on a .435 attack percentage. She did not commit an error on 27 attempts against Eastern Kentucky while putting down 14 kills.

Sophomore Kara Johnson (28 kills) and senior Molly McCoy (27 kills) contributed to the Flames’ offensive surge. McCoy committed six errors on 64 swings for an impressive .328 attack percentage.

Redshirt freshman setter Nicole Johnson continued her historic season by dishing out 125 assists.

During Saturday’s matches, sophomore Kara Johnson led the Flames with 35 kills and 22 digs. She collected two more double-doubles and raised her season total to seven.

Yancy added 29 kills and six blocks Saturday. She was named to the All-Tournament Team after 67 kills with a .359 attack percentage and 13 total blocks over the weekend.

Nicole Johnson set a new career-high with 67 assists against Western Illinois and finished the day with 104. Johnson collected her fourth 60-plus assist performance and her 12.14 assists per set this season leads the nation.

Senior Maggie Strus compiled 34 digs and jumped three spots in the program rankings to pass Inga Balzaras (1989-92) into second place with 1,422 career digs.

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