Volleyball hangs on to victory over SIU-E in first ever match-up

By Gus Bode

Southern Illinois University Carbondale avoided a near-collapse at the hands of sister school Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

The Salukis played SIUE Tuesday, winning a five set match they originally led 2-0. The match was the first time ever the two schools faced each other in volleyball.

“We gave them too many easy balls, and if you just throw a ball over they ran (their) offense. That was the biggest thing is sets three and four, and you can’t give any team that many balls, regardless of who it is,” head coach Brenda Winkeler said.

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Left to right, sophomore outside hitter Jessica Whitehead and freshman middle blocker Sarah James miss a spike Tuesday during a match against the SIUE Cougars in Davies Gymnasium –€“ Isaac Smith | Daily Egyptian

SIUC started the game out taking the first two sets with hitting percentages of .186 and .256, but faltered in the third and fourth, including a -.02 hit percentage in the third set.

“All of us obviously wanted to win, and we got too hyped up. We just needed to relax,” junior middle blocker Alysia Mayes said.

Mayes played with ankle tendonitis, but still had a career-high 20 kills.

“Coach told us they were going to be a smaller team, so just hit high and not try to bang balls. I just went with that and it was successful,” Mayes said.

Sophomore outside hitter Jessica Whitehead played with a sore knee and started the first two sets by hitting for a negative percentage, but came back with eight kills and only one error in the final two sets to finish the match with a hitting percentage of .100.

“(Whitehead) did a good job. I ask, and pretty much they know that if you’re hurt, you still got to convince your teammates (you can play),” Winkeler said. “I thought she showed some pretty good stamina out there.”

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Two Saluki players recorded double-doubles. Junior outside hitter Laura Thole 13 kills and 19 digs, but only hit for a .059 hitting percentage. Junior setter Rachael Brown had 53 assists to go along with 20 digs.

After SIUE took the third and fourth sets, SIUC recorded a hit percentage of .421 in the fifth. Sophomore outside hitter Elly Braaten had three straight kills to end the match, and she ended up with seven kills and 12 digs.

“Nothing will deter her from being aggressive,” Winkeler said. “With Jess off and Thole kind of off, that’s when offense becomes stagnant when (they) know you’re going to throw it to one receiver.”

The Salukis return to conference play against Evansville Friday at 7 p.m in Davies Gymnasium.

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