SIU volleyball’s historic season ends with first round loss

SIU volleyball's historic season ends with first round loss

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU volleyball competed in its first NCAA volleyball tournament match Friday in Louisville. They lost to Illinois in three sets (25-19, 25-15, 26-24).

“Going into the game we were really confident, we had nothing to lose,” senior middle hitter Taylor Pippen said. 

This was the first time SIU went into a match without the advantage of blocking. Illinois was ranked No. 13 in the country for blocking while SIU was at No. 30.

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“We felt strong about our system, it’s extremely hard to defend,” coach Justin Ingram said. “Tonight’s match-up was certainly going to be a challenge they are a good blocking team.”

SIU started the match with an even distribution of kills. The first five kills were all scored by different players. 

Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Estrada separated herself from the pack shortly after, with four of the Salukis’ first 10 kills. She didn’t record a kill the rest of the set.

Estrada ended the match with seven kills and nine errors on 31 attempts.

U of I’s height was something SIU had rarely seen this year. Of its 10 first points, three of them were the result of a blocked SIU attempt.

“We spent some time dissecting their offense,” Ingram said. “We felt good about our product going into the third set. We just needed to make some adjustments.

Before the media timeout, U of I led the set 15-12. SIU then scored the next four points out of the media timeout, scoring their first two blocks of the game in the process.

U of I closed out the set on a 6-0 run.

Pippen finished the set with five kills on seven attempts with no errors. She finished the match as SIU’s leading attacker with nine kills with two errors on 22 attempts. She added three block assists.

Illinois continued it’s success into the second set.

It opened the set with a 5-0 lead. 

The Fighting Illini led the entire set, and held a double-digit lead multiple times throughout. 

Five total errors in the set held the Salukis back.

The third set opened up with a 5-0 run for SIU. Sophomore hitter Nellie Fredriksson had two kills during the run. She finished the match with eight kills and six block assists. 

However, U of I then tied the score at seven and took the lead 8-7 after back-to-back blocks by Illinois junior middle blocker Katie Stadick.

Back-to-back kills by sophomore Abby Barrow forced U of I coach Kevin Hambly to take his second timeout of the set. SIU was on a 5-0 run before the timeout.

“It was a fun match to play,” Hambly said. “You could see that they could get going. If you have a chance to put a team away you have to put them away.”

After the Saluki’s were leading 15-9, Illinois closed the gap and tied the score at 18, then took the lead 19-18.

The rest of the set the two teams exchanged the lead three times before Illinois closed the set, and the match.

The two teams both finished with 42 kills, but the Salukis committed 15 more errors than the Illini.

“We were less efficient and that was the difference between a win and a loss,” Ingram said.

SIU finished its season with a 23-10 record. 

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE

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