By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
ST. LOUIS – Stephens College’s Kerri Kircher was honored Monday afternoon as the American Midwest Conference Attacker of the Week in volleyball for her performances against Lyon College and at the Avila Invitational.
The junior from Richmond, Ind., becomes the first Stephens student-athlete to claim AMC Volleyball Player of the Week honors since Kelsie Byrd in 2011.
With double-digit kills in all four matches this weekend, Kircher earned All-Tournament Team honors while eclipsing the 500-career kills mark.
For the week, Kircher averaged 3.2 kills per set and 0.7 blocks per set, which pushed her into the AMC Top 10 in each category.
The remarkable five-game stretch also pushed her season hitting percentage above .300, which is good for seventh among AMC players. Kircher, along with her Star counterparts, closed out the Avila Invitational on a high note with a five-set loss to a strong 11-3 Missouri Valley College squad and victories over Bethany (Kan.) and Haskell Indian Nations.
On Saturday, Kircher hit a blistering .458 in the pair of wins while tallying 27 kills in 48 attempts. Against Bethany, the 6-foot middle hitter registered 15 kills and a .500 attack percentage.
That helped the Stephens College volleyball team snap out of a four-game losing streak as it achieved back-to-back wins on the final day of the Avila University Invitational.
Improving their record to 4-6, the Stars defeated Bethany College, 3-1, and closed out the tournament with a 3-0 sweep of Haskell Indian Nations University.
Stephens College def. Bethany (Kan.), 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-15, 25-19) After going the distance with an 11-3 Missouri Valley squad Friday evening, the Stars carried their confidence and momentum into the Bethany matchup.
Despite trailing the Swedes by seven, the Stars staged a colossal comeback with 10 unanswered points to win the set 25-22. One major contributor in the rally was setter Danielle Craven. In the midst of nine straight service attempts, Craven registered two aces along with a pair of kills. Bethany answered the Stars with a 25-20 victory in Set 2. The Swedes played the cleaner set recording 14 kills, .429 hitting and just two errors, while SC had seven attack errors versus 12 kills. In Set 3, Stephens recovered quite nicely and executed in nearly every facet of the 25-15 game. The Stars served well with four aces, blocked well with two stuffs at the net and hit well with 12 kills and a match-best .391 attack percentage. Halan Mann continued her strong weekend with a six-kill effort in the fourth and final set.
The Stars closed out the match with an impressive 16 kills and .353 hitting percentage.
The duo of Kircher and Mann finished with a combined 29 kills as the former hit a match-high .500. Other hitters that had productive outings included Yonne Naismiyu (7 kills), Madison Reale (6 kills), and Danielle Kirk (5 kills). Danielle Craven notched a double-double against the Swedes with 37 assists and 10 digs.
Stephens College def. Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.), 3-0 (25-19, 27-25, 25-20) The Stars registered their first-ever win against Haskell on Saturday after losing the two previous meetings in 2013 and 2014. To no one’s surprise, Kerri Kircher kept up with her offensive pace and had five kills to begin the match against the Indians.
The Stars took an early 1-0 lead following a 25-19 win in Set 1. Stephens won the second set in extra points and held off a surging Haskell squad. Leading throughout the entire frame, the Stars yielded the lead to the Indians at 23-22 and avoided a loss at 25-24 with a Kandace Cook kill. Cook then delivered a service ace followed by a Danielle Craven kill to secure to a 27-25 decision. In a back-and-forth battle in Set 3, the Stars were able to separate themselves late. Tied at 18-18, Stephens scored in seven of the last nine rallies to clinch the straight-set victory and a 25-20 win in the third.
During that stretch, Mann took over as she totaled four kills and a solo block. Mann finished with 10 kills, just behind Kircher’s 12. Both middle hitters registered a pair of solo blocks against the Indians. Cook had a productive match with seven kills on 17 swings, along with a team-high three service aces. Reale registered a match-best 13 digs.