Daily Egyptian

Saluki volleyball falls to Panthers on Senior Day

By Dillon Gilliland

In the final appearance of the season in Davies Gym, SIU suffered a three-set loss to the University of Northern Iowa Panthers (24-7, 14-3 MVC) on Senior Day.

The Salukis looked to earn one last win on their home court on Senior Day before the season finish on the road.

“I feel like I’m just getting to know them,” head coach Kari Thompson said. “It’s a special day where they get to look back on their careers.”

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Southern matched up with the Panthers earlier in the season on UNI’s home court where SIU suffered a clean sweep.

Although Northern Iowa held a dominant lead in the all-time series, the Salukis had the advantage on Sunday afternoon as they won four straight against the Panthers at Davies.

UNI proved that the match would not be a breeze for Southern, as it jumped to a quick 5-1 lead sparked by a kill from junior middle hitter Piper Thomas.

The Salukis showed life early in the set and put up three straight points with a kill from senior outside hitter Andrea Estrada that brought SIU within one point at 7-6.

The Panthers found some breathing room midway through the set and put together a three-point run to put extend their lead to 15-10.

Northern Iowa followed up another three-point spree with two kills and an attacking error that extended their lead to 18-11.

The Salukis never found their way back into the game and went on to lose the first set 25-16.

The Panthers made a statement in the second set and took four of the first five points that forced SIU to chase once again.

Later in the set, Northern Iowa extended their lead with a service ace followed by a kill that made the score 11-6.

SIU rallied for points midway into the set and put up back to back two-point runs with two kills from senior outside hitter Abby Barrow. The 13-11 score forced UNI to take a timeout.

Later in the set, the Panthers put two consecutive points on the board with back to back kills that made the score 21-16.

The Salukis looked for a late comeback in the game and used two different two-point runs that started with kills from Estrada and Barrow. The score was narrowed to 22-20 in favor of UNI.

Southern fell short of a comeback and lost the second set 25-20 that gave the Panthers a 2-0 advantage and brought them one set closer to sweeping SIU for the second time this season.

In the third set, Northern Iowa jumped to a commanding 8-3 lead and put SIU on its back foot.

UNI extended its lead later in the set on a four-point run with three kills and attacking error that made the game 14-8.

Southern never found its way back into the set and lost 25-19.

“We did everything we could,” Estrada said.

Junior middle blocker Patience Brown led the Salukis with nine kills and four blocks.

Sophomore setter Alayna Martin once again led the team with her 18 assists on the afternoon.

Barrow led the team in digs with 11 while Martin added 10 of her own.

“Through everything we stuck together,” Estrada said. “The people who stayed with us are who matter.”

Up next, the Salukis (6-21, 5-11 MVC) will travel to Chicago on Nov. 17 to take on the Loyola Ramblers. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

“It’s hard to believe that this is the last time I’m going to play here,” Barrow said. “I’m going to miss the community.”

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

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