Salukis fight hard, lose to Oakland in 4 sets


Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE

Sophomore setter Alayna Martin, 18, passes ball to Senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks, 1, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, during the Saluki Women’s Volleyball home opener at SIU Arena. The Salukis fell to Arkansas State University in the final set, 22-25. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Jacob Selsor

The SIU volleyball team lost its opening match in the Western Michigan Tournament Friday to Oakland University Golden Grizzlies in four sets, 27-25, 25-21, 22-25, 20-25.

Friday’s match-up was only the second time the Salukis have played the Golden Grizzlies, the first coming in 2008 where southern was able to sweep Oakland in three straight sets.

The first set saw SIU and OU in a neck and neck battle from the first serve. The Salukis were able to capitalize on a few Grizzlies’ errors, and a service ace by junior middle blocker Patience Brown, to gain separation with an early 9-5 lead.


Southern continued to keep the pressure on, building to a 21-16 lead over Oakland deep into set one. But the Golden Grizzlies had other plans, going on a 7-0 run to put themselves up 23-21 on the Salukis.

SIU would not go down easily, tying the set twice before eventually succumbing to Oakland 27-25.

The Salukis took the first point of the second set with a kill by freshman opposite hitter Maggie Nedoma and never looked back, winning it 25-21.

Despite never losing the lead, it was still a tough set for the Salukis. Oakland managed to get within one point late in the set, but SIU was quickly able to bounce back with a kill by redshirt senior outside hitter Andrea Estrada and two Oakland errors.

The Golden Grizzlies did not falter in the third set, however, taking it 25-22. The set was tight in the beginning, with neither team able to gain more than a two point advantage. Oakland went on a 4-0 run mid-set to build a lead that it would not relinquish for the rest of the set.

The fourth set began strong for the Salukis, as sophomore setter Alayna Martin opened with back-to-back service aces to give SIU an early 2-0 lead. The set remained tight, with neither squad able to string together more than two points on the other.

With the score tied 17-17, Oakland broke the set open with a 6-1 run to claim a 22-18 lead. SIU tried to stop OU’s momentum with a timeout, but it did not have the effect Southern hoped for as Oakland went on to score three more times to SIU’s two, winning the set 25-20 and claiming a 3-1 match win.


Despite the loss, Maggie Nedoma put on quite a show, leading both teams in kills (18) and hitting percentage (.552), setting career highs in both. Senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks, Andrea Estrada, and senior outside hitter Nellie Fredriksson each had eight kills. Estrada also had an impressive 21 digs, which led both teams for the match by seven.

The Salukis fought hard all match, but in the end fell to 0-6 in coach Kari Thompson’s first season. They look to earn their first win of the season in their second and final match of the tournament at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Western Michigan University.

Sports writer Jacob Selsor can be reached at or on Twitter @jacobselsor_DE 

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