Jessica Whitehead tallied 16 kills to lead the SIU attack Friday night.
Sept. 21, 2012
By Robin Thuringer
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- It was a fight to the finish in the Salukis' first road game of Missouri Valley Conference play but Southern Illinois came up empty-handed against Missouri State Friday night.
SIU (11-2, 2-1 MVC) battled against an aggressive Missouri State (7-7, 2-1 MVC) lineup but couldn’t shut down its attack, falling in four sets to the Lady Bears 22-25, 26-24, 25-27, 22-25.
“We competed, we fought, and we battled tonight,” said SIU head coach Justin Ingram. “We just couldn’t get Missouri State slowed down in the end.”
Each set of the night was a back-and-forth battle between the teams. The match was tied 43 times with a total of 20 lead changes during the four sets of play.
The two fast-paced teams tested each other throughout the first two sets of the match. Each point scored was immediately returned to create no opportunity for either team to get ahead. The first set did not have more than a one-point spread until back-to-back kills by MSU pushed it ahead with a two-point advantage at the 22-20 mark. Alyia Mayes answered with a kill but Southern couldn’t put away the Bears attack, dropping the first set 25-22.
The Salukis came back swinging in the second set keeping pace with the Bears. MSU went on a 4-0 run to take the lead 13-10. After a timeout SIU regrouped and gained momentum from a kill off freshman Taylor Pippen. Missouri State committed three attack errors to grant Southern a one point lead. Missouri State’s Amber Doolittle knocked in two kills to keep her team in contention. SIU capitalized off the serve of Bailey Yeager scoring four consecutive points to take the second set 26-24.
SIU fought a tough fight again in the third set forcing the game to set-point three times. Missouri State challenged the Salukis on the attack with unexpected dump-sets and tip-ins to put away Southern 27-25.
Southern took their biggest lead of the match in the fourth set pulling ahead of Missouri State by six points. The Bears followed with a 5-0 run off kills from Amber Doolittle and Andrea Beaty to begin to close in on the Salukis. SIU tipped in two more points to tie the game at 22-22. MSU tapped into their arsenal of attackers to commit three more kills to win the set and match.
“Missouri State used some players that we weren’t prepared for and we weren’t watching for,” said Ingram. “We didn’t respond quick enough to handle their attempts.”
The Bears had four players that posted double digit kills including setter Carly Thomas who recorded a triple-double with 12 kills, 53 assists, and 15 digs.
SIU also boasted four players knocking in double digit kills. Jessica Whitehead led the attack for SIU tallying 16 kills. Laura Thole posted a double-double with 13 kills and 14 digs. Freshman Taylor Pippen had 11 kills while Alysia Mayes totaled 10 kills. Defensively, the Salukis posted nine total blocks during the four sets of play.
“Missouri State is among one of the toughest teams in the conference and I thought we really competed tonight,” Ingram said.
MVC action will continue tomorrow as the Salukis travel to face the Shockers of Wichita State at 7 p.m.