Daily Egyptian

Top 10 sports moments of the semester

By Sports Desk

Saluki sports fans saw firsts in program history, record-setting performances and career-defining games. Here are the Daily Egyptian sports staff’s top 10 moments in Saluki sports this semester:

1. Volleyball makes NCAA Tournament for first time in school history

Before the season, the SIU volleyball team set a goal to make history — and it did. The team qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. It also finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, the highest in program history.

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A nine-match win streak in the back half of the season capped off the historic campaign.

The team finished No. 29 in the country for blocks per set, led by sophomore middle hitter Alex Rosignol, who was No. 10 in the country with 1.51 blocks per set.

Senior middle hitter Taylor Pippen finished her career as the Salukis’ all-time leader in attack efficiency at .345. She was SIU’s leading attacker with 12 kills and no errors on 21 attempts in the Salukis 3-0 loss against Illinois in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

2. Mark Iannotti’s performance against Indiana

Putting up top-five numbers in conference history is impressive. It’s even more impressive when a Football Championship Subdivision player does it against a Big Ten opponent.

In the debut game of the Salukis’ new offense, which led the Missouri Valley Football Conference in total yardage, senior quarterback Mark Iannotti put up the best total offensive performance in Saluki history. 

Iannotti completed 24-of-31 passes for 411 yards and four touchdowns, the third best passing output in SIU history. He also ran for 106 yards and another touchdown. This was the first 400-100 yard game in SIU history.

This started a historic senior year for Iannotti, as he finished with 3,195 passing yards and 3,911 total offensive yards, both of which are SIU single-season records.

3. Alex Rosignol has two matches with 11 blocks each

Rosignol recorded 11 blocks in two matches this season, beginning with a 3-1 victory against Tulsa on Sept. 5 in the Tulsa invitational.

Syracuse leads the country in blocks per set averaging 3.12. In a five-set match, Rosignol was four blocks shy of tying what the nation’s best blocking team does on average. 

Bothered by her surgically-repaired knee, she missed more than a month of competition between the end of September and October.

In her first match back on Oct. 30, against Loyola, Rosignol had 11 blocks in a 3-2 comeback victory.

The Salukis were trailing 2-0 after the first two sets to a team they had already lost to this season 3-1.

Rosignol and junior setter Meg Viggars combined for two-thirds of the 19 blocks in the third match of the team’s nine-match win streak.

4. Meg Viggars records three-straight triple-doubles

Viggars had six triple-double performances this season for the SIU volleyball team — three of those coming one after the other.

No other Saluki had a triple-double this season.

The first match was against No. 22 ranked Missouri State. Viggars’ 26 assists, 12 kills and 10 digs led the Dawgs in a 3-2 upset Oct. 5 at Davies Gym.

Against Evansville, one of two MVC teams that did not qualify for the conference tournament, Viggars posted a triple-double in a four set victory. She had 12 kills, 29 assists and 12 digs.

The final triple-double in the streak was against Indiana State on Oct. 16. She led the Salukis with 15 kills in a 3-1 victory. She also tallied 18 assists and 11 digs.

Her ability to set, dig and attack gave the Salukis’ the ability to run a two-setter system with junior setter Hannah Kaminsky this year.

Viggars’ 781 assists this season is her career high.

5. Sean O’Brien with three-straight double-doubles 

After starting junior center Bola Olaniyan was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, a void was left going into the Salukis’ men’s basketball tournament in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Junior forward Sean O’Brien filled the void and then some, registering three consecutive double-doubles and being named to the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge All-Tournament team.

In each of the three games Olaniyan was suspended, O’Brien had at least 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading the team in all three games. He totaled 65 points and 32 rebounds in the games.

To date, Olaniyan is the only other Saluki this season to register a double-double, which he did Nov. 15 against Florida A&M.

6. Chase Allen’s performance against Youngstown State

SIU football lost its leading tackler for the first half of SIU’s homecoming game against then-No. 16 Youngstown State. Junior linebacker Chase Allen was suspended because of conference rules for a targeting penalty.

Allen had 10 tackles in the second half against the Penguins. He also added two of his three blocked kicks on the year. His three blocked kicks tied for first in the MVFC.

The sophomore recorded 10 or more tackles in a team leading seven games this season. The next closest was sophomore safety Kenny James, who did so six times.

In those games, Allen recorded 90 of his 120 tackles for the season.

7. Brandon Williams with three-straight games with a blocked kick

Senior linebacker Brandon Williams and Allen led the MVFC with three blocked kicks each. But, Williams did it all in a span of three weeks.

Williams’ first block came Sept. 26 in a 34-13 victory against then-No. 10 Liberty. He blocked a 57-yard field goal attempt which would have brought the Flames to within seven points. The Salukis scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession.

His second block came Oct. 3 in a 37-36 loss at Western Illinois. Williams blocked a punt and ran it in for a touchdown in the second quarter, reclaiming the lead for his team.

The final block of the season came on one of Missouri State’s nine punts in a 73-26 Saluki victory Oct. 10.

8. Anthony Beane’s performance against Kent State

There have been a string of games SIU men’s basketball senior guard Anthony Beane has played well in, but nothing like what was seen on Nov. 18 in a 72-69 win against Kent State. 

Beane matched his previous career high of 32 points, set against Tennessee State on Nov. 18, 2014, eight rebounds and shooting 12-of-13 from the free throw line.

Against the Golden Flashes he attacked the basket, drew fouls, made clutch three pointers and used step-back jumpers to carry the team to victory.

The defining moment in the game came in the last possession, when Beane poked the ball out of the hands of a Kent State player and dove on the floor to recover it. 

9. Daquan Isom’s performance against Northern Iowa

Isom returned from a two-game suspension to spark a comeback attempt in the second half of SIU’s season-ending 49-28 loss Nov. 21. He scored on back-to-back carries in the third quarter on runs of 61 and 72 yards, finishing the game with 145 yards on the ground.

He added another 68 yards receiving and 62 yards on kick returns for 275 all-purpose yards, and also tallied a touchdown reception.

Isom was the only SIU player to record more than 200 all-purpose yards in a game in 2015, and he did it twice. The first was a 224-yard performance Oct. 24 in a 38-31 win against then-No. 17 Youngstown State.

10. Jonny Rigby becomes all-time doubles wins leader

Senior Jonny Rigby and his partner, junior Michal Kianicka, won seven matches this fall to boost Rigby to No. 1 all-time at SIU with 58 doubles wins.

The duo’s 8-4 win against Wichita State’s Mirosav Herzan and Haru Inoue at the ITA Central Regional gave Rigby 56 career doubles wins, and the all-time record. They would win two more matches before the fall season concluded.

Rigby and Kianicka are still in the hunt to become SIU’s most winning doubles team. They need seven more wins to tie the all-time mark of 45, set by Fabiano Ramos and Mickey Maule in 1989.

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