Volleyball's rally falls short in five-set loss to Middle Tennessee

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    Sep 3, 2013

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    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- The Southern Illinois volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit, but couldn't complete the comeback in a five set loss to Middle Tennessee Tuesday night at Davies Gym.

    "I am pretty pleased with the kind of fight the team showed out there, being able to rally back and show some guts and score some points against a really good Middle Tennessee team," said SIU head coach Justin Ingram.

    Middle blocker Taylor Pippen posted a career-high 16 kills and outside hitter Jessica Whitehead added 18 kills, but the effort couldn't help the Salukis. Southern Illinois (1-3) fell by scores of 22-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-23, 14-16, for its third consecutive loss.

    SIU kept pace in the opening of set one, but the Saluki offense struggled to find consistency through sets one and two. Southern hit .205 compared to Middle Tennessee's (3-1) .333 in the opening frame.

    "When the pressure is on the team should have produced and we can only use the excuse that we are young so often and that was last weekend. We know that we are better," Ingram said.

    The Salukis offense finally hit its stride in the third set exploding on a 12-0 run to hold a 22-14 lead on the Blue Raiders. Southern trailed only once during the set, and was able to close out the set with a nine-point win.

    Tensions were high in the fourth set of play as points were traded back-and-forth between the teams. Middle Tennessee head coach Mike Peck received a yellow card on a controversial call that tied the score at 12 apiece. Southern was able to pull out to a four-point lead and bring the set to match point but the Raiders threatened with a 3-0 run. Sophomore Taylor Pippen was able to punch in a kill to claim the match win for the Salukis.

    The fifth set saw six errors for SIU but the Salukis remained in the game compliments of four errors returned by Middle Tennessee. A tie was held as late as 14-14 before the Blue Raiders took the final two points of the set and match.

    "We are certainly going to look back on this later in the year and wish those final two points would of went our way."

    In addition to Pippen and Whitehead's contributions, Meg Viggars knocked in 10 kills while senior Elly Braaten added nine. Freshman Hannah Kaminsky recorded 41 assists.

    Southern Illinois will travel to Manhattan, Kan. Sep. 6-7 to compete in the K-State Invitational.



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