Saluki volleyball swept by Illinois State

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Southern faced conference opponent Illinois State University on Saturday, suffering a 3-0 loss to the Redbirds at Normal, Illinois. The loss marked the end of the Salukis’ three-game win streak.

Southern Illinois (9-7, 1-1 MVC) opened up Missouri Valley Conference play last night against the Bradley University Braves, lasting throughout the long match to take the win 3-2. 

Illinois State (9-5, 2-0 MVC) took down the Missouri State University Bears last night, sweeping them 3-0 in their first game of conference play as well and bringing that momentum into tonight’s matchup.

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The Salukis haven’t been able to find a win over the Redbirds since their 2016 season, having been swept in all five matchups since then except for one. 

Each set of the match looked similar for both teams: SIU was able to open up play and compete with ISU, but the Redbirds used powerful runs to put the Salukis away.

Both teams came out with energy to start the match, but the Redbirds handled the Salukis 25-17 in the first set.

Outside hitter Kaylee Martin was able to put down two kills and serve an ace to help the Redbirds take an early 10-7 advantage, while senior middle blocker Emma Baalman and junior setter and outside hitter Rachel Maguire put down a kill each early on to keep the Salukis in the game.

It was a 9-2 run, however, that would help Illinois State take the lead for good, the Southern Illinois’ defense was unable to have an answer for the Redbirds. 

Junior opposite hitter Hannah Becker and junior outside hitter Savannah Sheridan were able to both put down three kills each in the set, working to try and keep the Salukis in the game offensively. 

ISU took down the Salukis 25-15 in the second set, SIU was unable to find an answer to the Redbirds’ offense

Illinois State took a 10-6 advantage over the Salukis early in the second set, but Southern Illinois was able to make a 5-1 run on the Redbirds to tie the game at 11. 

Another large run by the Redbirds however, including three kills and a block assist from freshman outside hitter Sarah Kushner would help Illinois State top the Salukis.

Baalman worked again to keep the Salukis in the set, putting down four kills, but the team wasn’t able to keep up with the Redbirds.

Southern worked hard at the net during the third set, with Baalman and Becker and Sheridan and junior middle blocker Lindsey Paulsen each able to get an assist on the block, but they weren’t able to outlast Illinois State, dropping the set 25-20. 

Southern Illinois, at one point was down 21-15  and fought their way back to only a 23-20 deficit, but a service error and a kill from ISU’s Martin sealed the loss for the Salukis. Martin would total 14 kills for the night, leading the team’s offensive line.

The Salukis couldn’t find the offensive power they were needing tonight, with none of their hitters recording double-digit hills. Baalman, however, did manage to lead the Salukis with eight kills total, hitting at a .462 clip along with three block assists. 

Senior setter Alayna Martin recorded another career double-double, totaling 11 digs, the team best for the match, and 10 assists to go with four kills at the net. 

SIU moves forward with MVC play next weekend with two matches at home. The Salukis will face the Drake University Bulldogs on Friday, Oct. 4, at 6 P.M., and on Saturday, the University of Northern Iowa Panthers at 5 P.M.

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

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