Salukis split conference matches

The Saluki volleyball team took the season’s first away conference win Friday, but the SIU offense could not keep up with Northern Iowa Saturday in a three-set loss that brought the Salukis to 16-4 overall and 6-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The first conference win on the road came in a five-set match against Bradley (6-13, 0-8) during their Homecoming. Senior outside hitter Laura Thole had a double-double night with 14 digs and a career-high 22 kills.

Senior middle blocker Alysia Mayes had 20 kills, five of which were in the first set. Bradley jumped to a lead early in the set that SIU could not rebound from and lost 18-25.

Kills from the duo of Mayes and Thole helped the team win the second set 25-17. When the teams were tied at 13, SIU started to edge ahead with two Bradley errors, a kill from Thole and two from Mayes.

“Laura (Thole) and Alysia (Mayes) no doubt carried us tonight,” said coach Justin Ingram. “They were exceptionally offensive taking great swings at key moments.”

SIU won the third set in a match with 13 ties 25-23.

Both teams started strong in the fourth set, but Bradley eventually went on a seven-point run. SIU had nine attack errors compared to Bradley’s five.

The Salukis were never able to bounce back and lost 25-21, which forced the match into five sets.

The teams traded points for the beginning of the set until freshman defensive specialist Mary Bogdanski went in to serve after a kill from freshman middle blocker Taylor Pippen put SIU up 10-9. Bogdanski served the last five points of the set with three kills from Thole.

“Mary Bogdanski had aggressive serving that pulled their setter off the net,” Ingram said. “We had a good block at the net and set the ball to Laura Thole, and she got some big swings in there for us.”

The team traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa Saturday to play top-conference team Northern Iowa (17-6, 8-1).

Home court advantage helped Bradley win 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 in front of a packed crowd of almost 2,800.

SIU was able to keep pace at the beginning of the first set before UNI went on a six-point run that the team never recovered from.

The seven attack errors for a .026 hitting efficiency led to a second-set loss.

The third set was the closest in points as SIU only lost by four. The teams battled back and forth until UNI pulled away from a tie at 21. Two Saluki attack errors and a kill from UNI senior outside hitter Amy Braun, who had 11 kills during the match, ended the match and SIU’s third conference loss.

SIU continues conference play against Wichita State at 7 p.m. Friday at Davies Gymnasium and again against Missouri State at 7 p.m. Saturday. SIU swept Wichita State and beat Missouri State 3-1 in their last meeting.

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