Salukis drop in five sets to Loyola on senior night

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Davies Crazies brought the energy to the gym on Saturday night to help the Saluki volleyball team host their senior night.

The team celebrated two seniors — setter Alayna Martin, who has played with the Salukis for four seasons now, and defensive specialist Laura Rojas, who is in her second season.

For their last home match of 2019, Southern faced the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers as part of their second half of Missouri Valley Conference play.

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SIU dropped the match in five sets to the Ramblers (20-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 10-15), which was the first time they have ever taken Loyola past four sets.

It was also the 11th time this season that Southern has played a five-set match.

Southern Illinois (13-16, 5-10 MVC) saw the Ramblers (19-8, 12-2 MVC) earlier this season on Oct. 11, when Loyola took the 3-1 victory on their home court.

Martin finished her last game, played in Davies Gym, with a triple-double in kills, assists and digs; she recorded a career-high 16 kills to go along with 18 assists and 10 digs.

Rojas finished the night with 18 digs for the Saluki defense, chipping seven assists as well.

Freshman Abi Fitzpatrick led the Saluki back row with a total of 25 digs, and junior outside hitter Savannah Sheridan added to Southern’s offense with 14 kills.

The Ramblers and the Salukis fought back and forth throughout the match, with Loyola taking sets one, three and five.

Southern called two timeouts early in the first set as Loyola broke away from an 8-all tie on a 6-point scoring run.

With the Ramblers up 20-11, the Salukis looked to close the deficit with an 8-3 scoring run.

Their late-game push wasn’t enough to take the lead, as Loyola finished out the game on top.

It was in set two that the Salukis found their momentum and ran with it — SIU pushed away from an early 5-5 tie with LUC to take a 14-7 lead.

Southern wouldn’t back down from here, as they took a 12-point lead while up 21-9 to help them grab the set two victory.

The Ramblers held a slight lead throughout set three that would help them secure the win for the set.

Loyola finished the set with a total of 19 kills while holding SIU to 10.

In set four, the Salukis edged ahead with an early 12-6 lead.

As Southern pushed ahead, LUC was able to recover from a 16-8 deficit with a 7-1 scoring run that brought them back in the game.

At 20-all, the Ramblers caught up to the Salukis, but two kills from junior outside hitter Savannah Sheridan would allow SIU to take the match to five sets.

Loyola jumped out to a 10-3 lead over Southern in the fifth set, which forced the Salukis to trail for the rest of the set while allowing the Ramblers to take the win.

The Salukis take the week to prepare for their next set of MVC matches.

SIU will travel to Terre Haute, Ind. to take on the Indiana State Sycamores (5-19, 3-11 MVC) on Oct. 15.

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

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