Daily Egyptian

Saluki volleyball makes late comeback to take down Drake Bulldogs

By Dillon Gilliland

SIU volleyball took down the Drake Bulldogs (23-7, 12-4 MVC) in Saturday afternoon’s five set thriller.

In the final weekend at home, the Salukis looked to put an end to their losing streak and came into the match against the conference power house in search of a win.

Southern has major success on its home court against the Bulldogs, as they held an all-time record of 23-8 and won the last six matchups. SIU suffered a four set loss to Drake earlier in the season at the Bulldog’s home court.

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Drake hit the ground the ground running in the first set. Five of the first seven points came from kills.

As the Bulldogs started to pull away, the Salukis reeled them right back in with three consecutive points. Two attacking errors and a kill from senior outside hitter Nellie Fredriksson made the score 10-7.

The Bulldogs continued to look strong, as they scored five of the next six points and forced the Salukis to take another timeout.

Drake found the gaps in Southern’s defense and put away SIU with a kill that ended the set at 25-11 and gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage.

Southern looked like a new team in the second set, as they jumped to a quick 7-2 lead sparked by a kill from freshman opposite hitter Maggie Nedoma.

The Bulldogs found their footing again and scraped together a four-point run with a kill and two service aces from junior outside hitter Cathryn Cheek that brought the score to 12-11 and forced SIU to take a timeout.

The Salukis showed promise for a late set comeback, as they put up back to back points with a kill from redshirt senior outside hitter Andrea Estrada that brought the score to 21-20 and forced Drake to take its first timeout.

Southern exited the Bulldog timeout and pushed forward for the comeback. Both teams fought back and forth, but it was SIU who came out on top as Fredriksson closed the set with a kill and a block that took the set 27-25 and tied the match at one set each.

Drake jumped to an immediate 11-4 lead in the third set and forced SIU into an early timeout. The Bulldogs refused to slow down after the timeout, as they put up four consecutive points and took a 15-4 lead.

Southern never found a chink in Drake’s armor, as the Bulldogs took the set in dominant fashion, 25-11 for a 2-1 advantage in the match.

Drake looked to make the fourth set the last one as they jumped to an early 6-2 lead with five kills and a service ace.

The Salukis tried to make the set interesting  as they put together a three-point run with an ace from Estrada that gave them a 10-9 lead.

“Volleyball is a thing of momentum,” Estrada said.

Southern — who continued their search for a fifth set — put up three consecutive points sparked by a kill from Nedoma that gave SIU a 14-12 lead and forced a Bulldog timeout..

Southern continued to extend their lead and never looked back as they took the fourth set 25-16 and tied the match at two sets each.

The Bulldogs struck first in the final set with three consecutive kills. SIU found back to back points midway into the set that brought them within one and forced Drake to take a 8-7 timeout.

SIU refused to slow down as they took the final set 15-13. The Salukis earned their redemption and claimed a 3-2 match victory.

“Defense was a big part of it” head coach Kari Thompson said. “We had to have defense.”

Senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks led the team in kills with 13 while Fredriksson added 11 of her own.

Sophomore setter Alayna Marin led the team in assists with 26 along with 22 from freshman setter Rachel Maguire.

Senior libero Ashley Edelen led the team in digs with 21. Maguire racked up 20 of her own.

Meeks also led the team with five blocks on the afternoon.

“It’s our last weekend here,” Estrada said. “We just want to play hard.”

The Salukis (6-20, 5-10 MVC) will remain at Davies Gym tomorrow for Senior Day against Northern Iowa. First serve is set for 2 p.m.

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

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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