Salukis fall on the road to No. 13 Northern Iowa

By Gus Bode

SIU becomes victory No. 100 for UNI head coach

The odds were stacked against the SIU volleyball team when it traveled to No. 13 Northern Iowa Friday night.

The Panthers (18-3, 10-1) were coming off their first conference loss of the season – a 3-1 loss to Southwest Missouri State Oct. 18.

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Northern Iowa head coach Bobbi Peterson was going for career win No. 100.

And UNI had an NCAA all-time second-best 66-game home winning streak to uphold.

Needless to say, the Salukis became victim No. 67, and 100, Friday night.

The Dawgs were swept 30-21, 30-27, 30-14 by a hungry Northern Iowa team coming off only its fifth Missouri Valley Conference loss since 1994.

SIU was held to a .087 hitting percentage and, despite an impressive run in game two, couldn’t come away with the victory in front of 1.649 rowdy fans at West Gym.

The Panthers hit .423 for the match and finished with more blocks (14-2.5), digs (35-20), kills (44-34) and aces (12-8) than the Salukis.

“You can’t win a game or a match by hitting .087,” head coach Sonya Locke said in a press release. “I thought we could have played better and showed a sign of what we can do in game two by battling right to the end, but we couldn’t finish the game.”

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Trailing 28-16 in game two, SIU went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 28-26 on the strength of freshman setter Holly Marita’s service ace and kills by freshmen Haley Hann and Johanna Yutzy.

SIU also had help from the Panthers, who committed seven of their 11 match errors during the Salukis’ run. But the Dawgs were unable to sustain the run, allowing UNI to score the final two points consecutively to take the game.

SIU followed the impressive run in game two with a dismal game three, hitting minus .077 while committing 12 errors in the 30-14 loss. UNI hit .455 and committed just two errors in the game.

Senior outside hitter Kelly Harman led the Salukis with 10 kills. Hann and sophomore Marissa Washington added in five kills apiece in the match. Washington finished with a team-leading .333 hitting percentage.

Northern Iowa’s Molly O’Brien and Shari Vermeer led the way with 10 kills each. Vermeer hit .600 on the night, and Michelle Burvee hit a match-high .714 with five kills on seven attempts and no errors.

The Salukis, who currently stand in eighth place in the conference, will play host to two of the top three teams in the MVC this coming weekend at Davies Gymnasium – Wichita State Friday night and SMS Saturday.

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