Salukis take down Lions in final Saluki Bash match

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

The Southern Illinois University Women’s Volleyball team moved to 3-3 for the season on a four set-decision match this afternoon with a win over Southeastern Louisiana.

The Salukis moved into day two of their home-hosted Saluki Bash tournament held at the Banterra Center following a win yesterday against Alabama A&M and a loss to sister school Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. 

Southeastern Louisiana also split for their two matches on Friday, falling in five sets to SIUE but able to put Alabama A&M away in just three sets.


According to first-year Saluki head coach Ed Allen, Southern Illinois was looking to work not only on their defense today, but their ability to perform consistently throughout a match as well.

“We have the ability to focus and execute a game plan for about an hour,” Allen reflected after last night’s match. “And we need to extend that to two hours.”

This proved to be a challenge again today for the Salukis. The team found themselves off to a shaky start for the first set of the match, eventually fighting their way back from a 7-2 deficit to take their first lead of the game at 17-16.

The Salukis finished the match with a close finish of 25-23, but looked stronger offensively during the second game. 

Junior middle blocker Hannah Becker, junior setter Rachel Maguire, and junior opposite hitter Kyra Hunter chipped in with at least one kill each during the set to help the Salukis defeat the Lions soundly in the second set, 25-15. 

Allen was especially pleased with his team’s offensive efforts, particularly with offensive standout freshman outside hitter Alex Washington out of the game today with a minor foot injury. 

“We were able to adjust what we were doing offensively to accommodate that,” remarked Allen, highlighting performances from Hunter and freshman outside hitter Bailey Neuberger, who tallied seven kills total. Overall, Rachel Maguire lead the Saluki offense with a total of 12 kills.


While the Salukis found themselves off to a strong start again in the third set, jumping out to an 8-4 lead and tallying three aces, one each from senior middle blocker Emma Baalman, Neuberger, and Maguire, the Lions improved offensively to tie the game with the Salukis at 17-all.

The Lions took their first lead of the game at 22-21 following a block from Southeastern Louisiana’s senior middle blocker Jodi Edo and freshman outside hitter Jolie Hidalgo, forcing Southern Illinois to call their first time-out of the game in hopes of regaining momentum to finish the set.

To tie up the game again, junior hitter Savannah Sheridan was able to put down a kill from a set from senior setter Alayna Martin for the Salukis. Sheridan would hit at a .333 for the game, connecting for 10 kills on 24 sets.

Allen called another time-out for the Salukis as the Lions took the 24-22 advantage. 

The Lions were able to finish the game following the time-out, claiming a 25-22 win and forcing the game to a fourth set.

Despite a game under their belt, the Lions were unable to execute in the fourth match against the Salukis. 

However, play remained neck-and-neck throughout the set, the largest difference being only four points with the Lions up 9-5.

Southern Illinois was able to break away for the win however, following a 22-all tie, as the Lions were unable to score again. 

Senior defensive specialist Laura Rojas, who tallied 10 digs total, finished the game with an ace, giving the Salukis the win of 25-25. 

Rojas’ ace marked SIU’s 13th ace of the game, and their serving dominance was something Allen was pleased with.

“I thought they took care of [serving] better than what we did on Friday in the first opening match,” Allen remarked.

In reflecting on their defense, Allen remarked that the team “began to be aggressive… and being purposeful with how we played the game.”

Saluki defense was headed by Maguire, who dug up 15 total balls. Martin and sophomore defender Katy Kluge chipped in 13 and 12 apiece, respectfully. 

“We have been improving with every game we’ve played,” senior Alayna Martin reflected after the game. “That’s very promising and exciting to see.” 

“We’re still learning how to win,” Allen reflected, as the Salukis look to improve on the season during the upcoming week.

The Salukis will be taking on rival Southeast Missouri State University on Tuesday, September 10, at 6pm, marking their first home match played at Davies Gym. 

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25

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