Day one of Saluki Invitational a struggle for Saluki volleyball

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Hard-fought matches seem to be a recent trend for the Saluki women’s volleyball team, given that the past three matches in a row have been decided in no less than five sets. 

Jared Treece | @jaredtreece
Rachael Maguire and Katy Kluge get fired up after the play against IUPUI on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 at the Banterra Center in Carbondale, IL.

Head coach Ed Allen attributes this to his team’s need for consistency. 

“Our ability to start matches and sets better is something that we’re focused on as we go through the rest of the season,” Allen commented. “We’ve got to have balance.”

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The Salukis opened up their second tournament hosted at home this weekend with their first two games of the Saluki Invitational held at the Banterra Center.

Unable to find a win for the day, Southern lost to the IUPUI Jaguars in a 2-3 decision, followed by a loss to the University of Memphis Tigers 2-3 as well. 

GAME 1

This morning the Salukis faced the IUPUI Jaguars (4-4) for their first match of the Saluki Invitational at 12:30 PM. 

Southern came out strong in the first two matches of the game, taking the Jaguars 25-21 and 25-16. The Jaguars came back strong in the next two sets of the match, however, battling hard to capture two 26-24 victories against the Salukis before claiming the final set 15-10.

The Salukis’ offense proved strong in the first two games with the team hitting at a .222 clip in the first set and at a .361 in the second set. 

Southern’s junior middle blocker Lindsey Paulsen lead the team with 15 kills total, chipping in 3 blocks as well. 

Senior setter Alayna Martin followed with 13 kills for the match out of 29 swings, hitting at a .310 for the match, and adding 22 assists as well.

Allen said that he was overall pleased with Martin’s performance as a hitter.

“I thought she did a good job, especially to start the tournament off. She hasn’t hit all year, and we’re having to do some things that are unique to our situation right now,” Allen stated.

Sophomore defenders Katy Kluge and Kat Wagner lead the Salukis’ defense with a strong back row performance. Kluge was able to dig up 23 balls during the match while Wagner contributed 22. 

For the Jaguars, sophomore outside hitter Hannah Oehlberg lead the team’s offensive efforts with a total of 11 kills for the match, also digging up 13 digs in the back row for a double-double. 

Freshman outside hitter Corrissa Remter tallied 10 kills for the game, and was able to record eight blocks for IUPUI as well. 

GAME 2

Following the morning loss to IUPUI, the Salukis looked to improve upon the day to defeat the University of Memphis Tigers (8-0) at 7:30 PM. This match was also the Tigers’ second match of the day, following their 3-1 win over the Alabama State Hornets earlier in the morning.

The Salukis’ efforts, however, weren’t enough to overcome the Tigers, and SIU lost the match in a 3-2 decision. 

The Tigers took control of the match early on, taking the first two sets 26-24 and 25-17 before the Salukis would find the momentum to stage an attempt at a comeback. 

After being down 20-12 in the first set, the Salukis were able to find some momentum of their own to tie the score with the Tigers at 24-24, junior setter and outside hitter Rachel Maguire putting down two back-to-back kills to help the team. 

Maguire was able to put down 9 kills just within the first set alone out of 13 total for the night.

The Tigers, however, wouldn’t be stopped, as Tiger sophomore outside hitter Meredith Wallace put down two kills to help the Tigers take set one.

During the second set, the Salukis and the Tigers both came out strong, but the University of Memphis was able to handle the Salukis. An 8-2 run towards the middle of the set allowed the Tigers to take a steep 19-9 lead to help them claim the victory.

Sets three and four saw a new side of the Salukis, as they would work to overcome the Tigers 25-23 and 25-13. 

“I thought once we settled into the match we played a lot better,” Allen commented. “We blocked the ball better in the third and fourth sets, and we created some challenges for their hitters.”

SIU’s offense worked to maximize their opportunities as well in the third set, getting the ball to freshman hitter Savannah Sheridan on the outside for four consecutive kills, which gave the Salukis a 12-10 advantage early on to give the Salukis their first set.

The fourth set brought the Salukis a large 13-4 lead early on, which allowed the Salukis control throughout the set, while Memphis struggled offensively, totalling 11 offensive attacking errors. 

Southern Illinois, on the other hand, hit at a strong .292 for the game, Becker and Sheridan both adding three apiece for the set. 

The Salukis fought their way to a final deciding set but were unable to finish the match, losing to the Tigers 15-10. 

“I thought we served the ball well, [kept] ball control reasonably well, just had trouble putting balls away,” Allen reflected. 

The Salukis (4-4)  will look to implement changes and improve their consistency during tomorrow’s match.

The Salukis will face the Alabama State Hornets to close out day two of the Saluki Invitational on Saturday, September 14. First serve is set for 1:30 PM at the Banterra Center.

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

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