The women’s volleyball team saw mixed results during its two weekend matches as it dominated the first but fell short in the second.
The now fourth-place Salukis are in the top five of all but one Missouri Valley Conference statistic, including its top rank in hitting percentage. Seniors Laura Thole and Alysia Mayes are first and second respectively in average kills per set in the conference, while sophomore setter Amy Drabant leads in assists per set, senior libero Bailey Yeager is second in digs per set and Mayes leads in blocks.
Wichita State 18-25, 15-25, 20-25
SIU lost in a three-set bout on the road to Wichita State Sept. 22. In their second matchup, the Salukis (17-5, 7-4 MVC) came from behind and won the first set 25-23 Friday. However, the team couldn’t keep up with the Shockers (16-5, 9-2) hitters, as it dropped the next three sets in its first Davies Gymnasium loss this season.
“We thought we had a good game plan going in, and our efforts in the first set showed that,” coach Justin Ingram said. “The issue is as the match went on, our relationships were poor with defending tow of their outside hitters.”
Wichita outside hitter Emily Adney had 21 kills in the match helping her team’s hitting efficiency, which never dropped below .300 during the match.
The teams went back and forth in the second set before Wichita went on a three-point run in the middle of the set to gain momentum and won 25-18.
A poor .027 hitting percentage factored into the Salukis’ 25-15 loss in the third set.
SIU held on late in the fourth set with two back-to-back kills from junior outside hitter Jessica Whitehead. The Salukis couldn’t bounce back, though, and lost 25- 20. Whitehead led with 19 kills followed by Thole with 18.
Missouri State 25-21, 15-25, 25-18, 25-23
Ingram said the team learned from the Sept. 21 Missouri State matchup to prepare for Saturday’s game.
“We knew what to expect because we had played them before, so we had an idea coming in and knew it was going to be a tough match,” he said. “The plan was to work to get them out of their system, and once our serve started hitting those certain zones it made it difficult for them.”
Missouri’s middle blocker Kaitlin Jaeger — who led in kills against the Salukis in the last match — sat out of the game with an injury, which Ingram said changed SIU’s strategy.
MSU compiled a weak .056 hitting efficiency in the first set compared to SIU’s .312. The Bears bounced back in the second set with a .441 hitting percentage, though, and won 25-15.
The third set saw six ties and two lead changes. MSU called a timeout after a block from Whitehead put the Salukis up 10-7.
A bad Missouri serve sent senior setter Rachel Brown back to serve. A block from Mayes and Drabant and an ace from Brown changed the set’s momentum as SIU continued to climb and won 25- 18, leaving the Bears to another .056 hitting percentage.
The night’s fourth set was tied 11 times with a final tie of 23-all. Mayes threw down a kill to send herself back to serve, which the team scored on to win the match.
Thole led the team with 19 kills, followed by Whitehead with 17.
The Salukis are back on the road this weekend as they play at Drake Friday and Creighton Saturday.