Sept. 30, 2011
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois volleyball team overcame a mid-match slump for a five-set win over Evansville Friday night at Davies Gym in the annual Dig for the Cure match.
The Salukis (8-6, 2-3 Missouri Valley Conference) defeated the Purple Aces (11-9, 1-4 MVC) by scores of 25-18, 16-25, 24-26, 25-19, 15-10.
"It was a long match, definitely one with ups and downs," said SIU head coach Brenda Winkeler.
The Salukis looked solid throughout the first set en route to a convincing seven-point win before the wheels fell off in the second set. Southern dipped from a .355 hitting percentage with 16 kills in the opening set to a -.100 clip with just nine kills in the second set.
Winkeler said the Salukis' offense became too predictable in the second set, which led to eight Evansville blocks.
"When we don't pass well, and we pass the ball straight up in the air, everybody in the gym knows we are going to set our outside hitter," Winkeler said. "It becomes a one-dimensional offense which leads to them being better blockers."
Southern fell behind early in the third set and never found a rhythm until late in the set. Trailing 23-16, the Salukis posted a furious 8-1 rally to force extra points before the Aces closed the set with consecutive kills to preserve a 2-1 set lead.
Fortunately, the Salukis were able to carry the momentum from their third-set rally into the fourth set. Southern jumped out to a 7-1 lead to open the fourth set and never let Evansville closer than four points on their way to the set win.
SIU continued their run into the fifth set, going ahead 8-4 at the turn before leading as much as 13-6. Evansville posted a 3-0 run to get back within four points, but the Salukis closed out the set for their second five-set win in a row.
Jessica Whitehead led SIU with 21 kills while Alysia Mayes added 19 kills on a .500 hitting clip. Laura Thole finished with a double-double of 15 kills and 16 digs while Rachael Brown posted a season-high 59 assists and Bailey Yeager led the team with 18 digs.
"Everything we have worked on this week, what is encouraging is that we saw it improve tonight," Winkeler said. "We need continue to do that through throughout the season."
The Salukis will be on the road Friday Oct. 7-8 at Indiana State and Illinois State.