Saluki volleyball gives Loyola first conference win of the season


Mary Newman

Senior outside hitter Andrea Estrada, 9, (left), and sophomore outside hitter Alysa Sutton, 12, celebrate a point Saturday, Oct. 20, 2017, during the Salukis’ five set loss against Bradley University at Davies Gym. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Dillon Gilliland

The SIU volleyball team fell to Loyola University in four sets (25-11, 22-25, 26-28, 22-25) Monday night in Davies Gym, handing the Ramblers their first conference win of the season.

The Salukis came into Monday evening’s matchup against the Ramblers looking to earn redemption while adding another conference win to the books.

SIU lost both of its matches against Loyola last year and have lost three of the previous four meetings — including their last three home games against the Ramblers dating back to 2013.


The Ramblers entered Monday night’s matchup winless in the conference — with their lone win on the season coming against non-conference opponent Samford — while suffering through a 16-game losing streak.

The Salukis came into the first set firing on all cylinders as they jumped to an early 8-3 lead, sparked by a service ace from senior outside hitter Abby Barrow, forcing Loyola to take an early timeout.

Southern surged out of the time out with a couple of two-point runs, with a kill from redshirt senior outsider hitter Andrea Estrada and another service ace from Barrow bullying Loyola into another timeout at 15-8 in favor of SIU.

The Ramblers’ timeout did not slow the Salukis as they strung together multiple points before a service ace from Estrada put Loyola away 25-11 in the first set.

The Salukis continued to steamroll the Ramblers in the second set, jumping to an early 4-1 lead with a couple kills from junior middle blocker Patience Brown.

Loyola started to show some fight as it scraped together a three-point run with back-to-back kills and forced an attacking error from SIU to tie the set up at 4-4.

Both teams began to trade points back and forth with neither team letting the other gain an advantage until the Ramblers found three straight points to gain some wiggle room — taking the lead at 14-11 and forcing Southern to take a timeout.


Loyola came out of the timeout and put up back-to-back kills to extend its lead to 16-11.

The Salukis refused to let the Ramblers pull away, finding three straight points punctuated by a kill from freshman opposite hitter Maggie Nedoma to close the gap to 17-15 and force Loyola to take a timeout.

SIU continued to ride the heels of the Ramblers but failed to gain the lead, losing the second set 25-22 to tie the match at 1-1.

Loyola kept the momentum in its favor by taking the first five points of the third set with a couple of kills and three SIU attacking errors.

The Salukis showed promise later in the set as they pieced together four straight points to bring the score to 23-20 and force the Ramblers to take a timeout.

Prior to the timeout Barrow recorded her fifth kill of the game, becoming the 15th in Saluki history to achieve 1000 kills and the ninth active player in the MVC with 1000 kills.

“She means a lot to our program,” head coach Kari Thompson said. “It’s a great honor and her hard work paid off.”

SIU came out of its timeout and took four of the next five points to tie the set up at 24-24.

After battling back and forth and taking turns trading points, it was Loyola who came out on top taking the set 28-26 to earn a 2-1 match lead — needing one more set to earn their first conference win.

The Salukis came into the fourth set looking to shift the momentum as they jumped to a quick 4-0 lead with three kills and a ball handling error.

The Ramblers answered back with five straight points on four kills and a service ace to put them ahead 6-5.

Southern made an attempt to pull away from Loyola by putting together a three-point run and a two-point run sparked by kills from Brown and Barrow.

The Ramblers proved that they wouldn’t be shoved around by putting up three straight points to tie the set at 13-13, forcing SIU to take a timeout.

Southern came out of the timeout and gave up back-to-back points, but quickly answered back by putting up three straight points with two kills and a service ace by freshman defensive specialist Alison Thomas to take a 16-15 lead — forcing a timeout by Loyola.

SIU came out of the timeout refusing to back down as they continued to pound the ball into the hardwood with kills from Nedoma and Barrow to extend their lead to 20-18 and force the Ramblers into another timeout.

Loyola came out of their timeout looking to turn things around, taking three of the next four points to take the lead back 22-21, forcing Southern to take another timeout.

The timeout did not slow down the Ramblers as they took the final set 25-22, earning their first conference win of the season.

Estrada led the team in kills with 11 on the night.

Sophomore setter Alayna Martin led the team in assists with a total of  22.

Estrada and Barrow co-led the team in service aces with three apiece.

Barrow also led the team in digs with 15 on the night.

Senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks led the team in blocks with seven while Nedoma added six of her own.

“We have to stay consistent throughout the whole game and learn how to finish,” Barrow said. “We get up, but we aren’t finishing.”

Up next, the Salukis (5-19, 4-9 MVC) head to Springfield, Missouri on Saturday to take on Missouri State University for the second time this year. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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