Salukis clinch MVC Tournament spot after win against Evansville

Tatum+Tornatta%2C+left%2C+reacts+with+her+teammates+Anna+Jaworski%2C+middle%2C+and+Nataly+Garcia%2C+right%2C+after+a+scoring+play+during+the+Salukis+a+3-0+match+win+over+the+University+of+South+Carolina+-+Upstate+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+10%2C+2021+during+the+Saluki+Invitational+at+the+Banterra+Center+at+SIU.+

Jared Treece | @bisalo

Tatum Tornatta, left, reacts with her teammates Anna Jaworski, middle, and Nataly Garcia, right, after a scoring play during the Salukis a 3-0 match win over the University of South Carolina – Upstate on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 during the Saluki Invitational at the Banterra Center at SIU.

On Saturday, the Salukis hosted the Evansville Aces for Southern Illinois senior night.

The Dawgs clinched a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament after defeating the Aces in a four-set match and honored their only senior for senior night.

Bailey Neuberger led second in aces for her team and third in digs, ending the game with one ace, her 23rd of the season, and nine digs.

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Southern Illinois got an early lead in the first set with a five-point streak that was started with a kill by junior outside hitter Tatum Tornatta. The Dawgs finished the set with another five-point streak that was started with another kill by junior middle hitter Imani Hartfield. The Salukis took the first set 25-23.

In the second set, the Salukis were defeated by the Aces 30-28 in a point-by-point set. Into the third set the Salukis took the Aces 25-23, 20 of the Saluki’s 25 points were made up of kills. Senior outside hitter Nataly Garcia and Hartfield both tallied five kills each in this set.  

Into the fourth set, the Dawgs only allowed Evansville 19 points and took the win 25-19 to take the match 3-1. 

Southern Illinois had four players hit double-digest kills. Garcia led with 18 kills, three aces, and one block. Annabelle Sulish followed with 16 kills and one block, Tornatta ended the match with 14 kills and four blocks, and Imani Hartfield finished with ten kills and four blocks.

The Salukis will travel to the University of Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 to take on the Panthers.

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Sports reporter Joei Younker can be reached at [email protected]

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