Volleyball splits matches to open season

    Sophomore transfer Amy Drabant recorded 72 assists in her debut as a Saluki.

    Sophomore transfer Amy Drabant recorded 72 assists in her debut as a Saluki.
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    Aug. 24, 2012

    Game 1 Final Stats

    Game 2 Final Stats

    By Robin Thuringer

    MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- The Southern Illinois volleyball team opened their season Friday at the Memphis Invitational splitting their first matches of the 2012 season.

    The Salukis (1-1) opened the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Eastern Michigan (2-0) but came back strong in their second game, sweeping tournament host Memphis (0-2).

    Eastern Michigan 3, Southern Illinois 1

    Eastern Michigan challenged the Salukis from the start taking control early edging out Southern 25-21 and 25-23 to take the first two sets.

    "We came out tight and couldn't seem to get into our rhythm," said SIU head coach Justin Ingram. "It took us too long to get going and a team like EMU wasn't going to let us off the hook."

    SIU rallied back from an early deficit in the first set to close in on Eastern's ten-point lead to come within two. The Eagles, however, responded only allowing Southern to score three more times to finish up the set.

    The Salukis couldn't survive a back-and-forth second set that saw three lead changes and six ties. SIU went on a 4-0 run to take a late 21-20 lead but couldn't secure the lead, falling by two points.

    The Salukis bounced back in set three, dominating EMU 25-12. Southern came out with a 3-0 lead and held that pace throughout the set allowing only two lead changes. SIU closed out the match with a run of eight unanswered points for the win.

    The tide turned in the fourth set as Eastern secured the win and held off the Salukis taking the set 25-19.

    "We were able to get things going in the third set and find our rhythm but were unable to sustain it in the fourth, which is what we needed to do to win," said Ingram.

    Junior outside hitter Jessica Whitehead led the SIU attack with 18 kills while senior middle blocker Alysia Mayes added 11 kills and .381 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Emily Less had a strong outing with a .462 hitting clip.

    Sophomore transfer Amy Drabant contributed 42 assists in her debut as a Saluki. Defensive specialist Bailey Yeager added a team high 22 digs while senior Laura Thole finished with nine kills and 18 digs.

    Southern Illinois 3, Memphis 0

    Southern rebounded from its loss to Eastern Michigan and swept the Tigers 25-15, 25-22, 25-16 to close out their first day of competition at the Memphis Invitational.

    This was the first win for the Salukis under the direction of head coach Justin Ingram.

    "Everyone settled in and perhaps got rid of those first game jitters and we were able to come out and play with confidence," said Ingram.

    SIU came out quickly in the first set controlling the ball to increase their lead steadily to win the set convincingly, 25-15.

    SIU remained in striking distance during the duration of the second set trailing Memphis until taking a 19-17 lead. Southern remained in control for the remainder of the set to winning 25-22, to take a 2-0 series lead.

    The Salukis kept the momentum going into what would be the final set of the match. Southern's offense remained stellar holding off Memphis to win the set 25-16.

    "Our matches need to be an extension of practice and that allows us to compete like we did tonight, now it is needing to make that a habit," Ingram said.

    Freshman middle blocker Taylor Pippen dished up a team-high 10 kills for a hitting percentage of .588 in her first match for SIU. Seniors Alysia Mayes and Laura Thole each contributed nine digs.

    Amy Drabant tallied 30 assists to total 72 on the day. The sophomore also had 12 digs in the match. Bailey Yeager led the team in digs with 14.

    "Everyone is expected to contribute at a high level, if someone is in a slump we need to be able to fill that void and many girls did just that," said Ingram. "With continued hard work wins like this will become consistent."

    The Salukis return to the Memphis Invitational tomorrow, Aug. 25, taking on the Lady Govs of Austin Peay at 2 p.m.