Salukis battle the Bears: SIU volleyball takes down Missouri State

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

The Saluki women’s volleyball team took on the Missouri State University Bears on Monday night, as both teams battled for their third Missouri Valley Conference win of the season. 

Southern took down Missouri State for the first time since 2016 after battling through five close sets (25-19, 19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-13). 

Southern (11-12; 3-6 MVC) faced the Bears tonight for their third game in four days. On Oct. 18, the Salukis fell 3-0 to the University of Evansville Purple Aces, and fell in five sets to the Indiana State University Sycamores on Oct. 19. 

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Missouri State (5-18; 2-7 MVC) also faced Evansville and Indiana State this past weekend; on Friday, they took down the Sycamores 3-2, and on Saturday, dropped a match 3-0 to the Purple Aces. 

“If you look at the last two weeks, with the injuries we’ve had, with how we’ve played, that’s enough to wash a team,” head coach Ed Allen said. “I’m really pleased with them, their ability to control the things that are completely controllable and attitudes are completely controllable. They’re approaching things like winners.”

SIU saw three of their hitters record double-digit kills. Junior opposite hitter Hannah Becker led with 19 kills to tie for her career-best; junior outside hitter Savannah Sheridan recorded a total of 15; and junior setter Rachel Maguire added 10 as well.

Senior defensive specialist Laura Rojas returned for her first appearance in three games, leading the Salukis with 16 digs and 27 service receptions.

“Laura made a big difference for us on the floor. Her being gone in the last three matches made our play chaotic,” Allen said. “Having that stability back on the floor was probably one of the biggest differences.”

MSU edged ahead early in the first set, but SIU responded with a seven-point scoring, including two kills from Becker, to take the 13-8 lead and force the Bears into a timeout. 

The Bears looked to tie the game against SIU with a 6-2 scoring run of their own. Junior middle blocker Laynie Dake put down three kills in the run, but would only come as close as trailing by one point at 19-18. 

Becker and Maguire would lead the Salukis offensively in the frame, both with four kills a piece. 

SIU hit at a .262 percent for the set while holding the Bears to a .165 hitting percentage.

The Salukis held the slight advantage throughout the beginning of the second set, leading by no more than two points. 

MSU took their first lead of the game, 16-15, after a three-point scoring run. Freshman outside hitter Brooklyn Cink put up a block assist and a kill to help the Bears take the advantage. 

The Bears continued to make their push from there, putting down 14 kills on 30 attempts while only allowing Southern four more points for the set. 

Southern and MO State battled point-for-point throughout the third set with neither team gaining more than a two-point advantage. 

Becker and Sheridan led with five kills each to help the Salukis take the third-set victory, while sophomore outside hitter Sarabi Worsley-Gilbert led Missouri State with four. 

In the fourth set, both teams battled back-and-forth again with one another, until MO State made a 4-1 scoring run to take the 20-16 lead over SIU. 

Trailing 23-20, Southern looked to regain their momentum as they forced the Bears into a timeout call, but couldn’t make up the point difference as they fell to Missouri State. 

The Salukis found themselves down 4-0 to start the fifth set, but responded quickly by rattling off three points of their own in order to stay in the game. 

Southern took the lead in the fifth set following three consecutive kills from Becker, and would continue to hold the lead to take the victory.

For their next game, the Salukis will face the Illinois State University Redbirds (13-7, 6-2 MVC) at home for the second time this season.

First serve is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 25 at Davies Gym. 

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

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