Family feel leads Herd Volleyball to victory in Bulldog Invitational


Richard Crank

Destiny Leon celebrates a kill in the Green vs White volleyball match.

Marshall University Herd Volleyball went undefeated at the Bulldog Invitational in Washington, D.C. last weekend.

The team started off the weekend with a five set victory (25-16, 25-15, 15-25, 22-25, 15-10) over Georgetown, then swept Stony Brook (25-23, 25-14, 25-17) in match two and swept Northern Kentucky University (25-14, 25-17, 25-18) in the final game of the invitational.

Not only did the team win the invitational, but three players received honors. Redshirt junior Ciara DeBell was named Tournament MVP and junior Destiny Leon and sophomore Isa Dostal were named to the All-Tournament team.

“Our team was together the entire time,” Leon said. “That is why we went 3-0 because everyone was together, we were fighting together and we are just a family.”

DeBell was also named Conference USA Co-Offensive Player of the Week.

“It is really exciting,” DeBell said. “I have never actually gotten anything like this before. I am pretty hype, it is pretty cool.”

Against Georgetown three players for the Herd finished with double-digit kills in the match. DeBell led the team with 18 kills, and sophomore Sarah Schank followed with 16. Leon set a career-high 11 kills, hitting a .381 percentage for the match.

“It means a lot because I know now that our team is able to pass good,” Leon said. “When they do, we (middles) have the opportunity to hit.”

Junior setter Sydney Lostumo led the team with 30 assists and sophomore Gabrielle Coulter had 18. Senior Amber Weber had 18 digs and six assists. Dostal picked up seven blocks in the match.

In the second game of the tournament against Stony Brook, DeBell recorded 15 kills, eight of which were in the second set finishing the match with a .448 attacking percentage. She also had seven digs and three total blocks. Schank contributed seven kills and had three service aces. Lostumo led the Herd with 19 assists and four aces. Coulter recorded 10 more assist in addition to Lostumo’s. Sophomore Autumn Elswick added three aces. Weber recorded 10 digs, two assists and an ace.

“We all did really well together,” DeBell said. “We all played together, our coaching staff was in it with us and it was a complete giant family effort. It made everything easier and so fun.”

In the final game of the invitational against NKU, DeBell was on top for the Herd yet again with 14 kills. She added seven digs and three total blocks. Schank contributed seven kills and nine digs. Lostumo finished with 16 assists and Coulter tallied 13. Weber led the team with 11 digs and had five assists.

“The momentum that we had in all three sets stayed consistent,” DeBell said. That helped our defense, our setters on where to place the ball, and our offense. Everything was so in tune and we all flowed really well together.”

Blocking was key for the Herd, recording 13 blocks to NKU’s three. Dostal had three solo blocks and assisted on five others. Leon had one solo block and assisted on four more. Sophomore Mion Weldon assisted in five blocks and DeBell contributed on three.

“I want to block everyone,” Dostal said. “I feel like blocking someone hypes the entire team up. It is like ohh you shut her down.”

The Herd does not have a home game until conference play starts at the end of Sept.

“This is the first time that this group has gone 3-0 in a tournament together,” DeBell said. “I think that we will be able to take last tournament and carry it on to the next tournament and into the next.”

The Herd hits the road again Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13-14 to St. Louis for the Billiken Invitational, facing UT-Martin, Saint Louis and Troy.

Sydney Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]