Salukis defeat Valparaiso 3-1 in first match at Davies Gym


Dylan Nelson

Senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks (left) and senior outside hitter Abby Barrow (right) block the ball Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, during the Salukis' 2-1 win against Valparaiso University at Davies Gym. (Dylan Nelson | @Dylan_Nelson99)

By Nathan Dodd

In the fourth all-time meeting between the schools, SIU volleyball defeated Valparaiso in four sets (25-21, 25-22, 16-25, 26-24) Monday night for its second conference win of the season.

Monday’s match was the first time that Valparaiso (7-8, 0-3 MVC) has faced SIU as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. The Indiana-based university replaced Wichita State who left for the American Athletic Conference earlier this year.

Previously, the Salukis claimed victory in all three matchups against the Crusaders. The last time the two squads met was at the Billiken Invitational in St. Louis, Mo. in 2012.


“We came in with a strong mentality that we were going to win,” redshirt senior Andrea Estrada said. “No matter what we were going to fight.”

Senior outside hitter Abby Barrow blocks the ball Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, during the Salukis’ 2-1 win against Valparaiso University at Davies Gym. (Dylan Nelson | @Dylan_Nelson99)

In the first set, the Salukis overcame a quick 2-0 deficit by rattling off four straight points. From there, SIU never surrendered the lead, taking the set by a score of 25-21.

Freshman opposite hitter Maggie Nedoma led the Saluki scoring with six kills. Senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks added five more kills in the Saluki set victory.

The Salukis got off to a slow start in the second set, finding themselves down 4-0 to begin the round.

SIU responded well, though, slowly chipping away at the lead to tie the set at 11 points apiece. From there, the Salukis never looked back – emerging victorious in the second set 25-22.

Looking to avoid being swept out of Davies Gym, Valpo jumped out to another 3-0 lead in the third set of the match.

Valparaiso University senior middle hitter Taylor Graboski celebrates scoring a point Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, during the Salukis’ 2-1 win against Valparaiso University at Davies Gym. (Dylan Nelson | @Dylan_Nelson99)

After SIU tied the set at five points apiece, the score teetered between the clubs until Valpo went on a 7-0 scoring run. The Crusaders kept their foot on the gas and took the third set 25-16.

Down 14-8 in the fourth set, SIU had to play “comeback” once again. Junior middle blocker Patience Brown took charge for the Salukis by recording seven kills in the set and helping turn the momentum in Southern’s favor. SIU would proceed to a 26-24 win – clinching the match after a lengthy rally.

Estrada made her presence known for the Salukis on the offense and defense. The outside hitter recorded 11 kills with a 0.308 attack percentage. She also came up with 15 digs in the contest.

“I think Andrea was everywhere at one point,” senior outside hitter Nellie Fredriksson said. “It’s so nice as a blocker to go up, and if you don’t touch it, you know she is going to be right behind you. It’s a great trust thing to have and she’s amazing.”

Junior middle blocker Patience Brown blocks the ball Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, during the Salukis’ 2-1 win against Valparaiso University at Davies Gym. (Dylan Nelson | @Dylan_Nelson99)

Coming up with digs was a major factor in SIU’s victory.

“Our dig is keeping us alive,” head coach Kari Thompson said. “Once we decided to sit in there and dig, then we gave our offense the opportunities it needed.”

Senior libero Ashley Edelen led the Salukis with 20 digs. Adding 17 digs was senior outside hitter Alayna Martin to go along with her 34 assists on the night.

Meeks, an inside hitter for SIU, remained a constant in the Saluki attack. The senior added multiple kills in all four sets – compiling 12 total in the match.

The victory for SIU came in their first game back at Davies Gym in 2017.

“I was excited to get back in Davies,” Estrada said. “It felt like home. It felt right. The Arena felt odd and it was nice to have people back in here.”

Up Next

SIU (3-11, 2-1 MVC) continues its four-game homestand with a match against Evansville (6-8, 0-2 MVC) Friday at Davies Gym. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

Sports reporter Nathan Dodd can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NathanMDodd.

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