Volleyball is perfect 11-0 in non-conference play with win at SEMO

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    Oct. 20, 2009

    By Shalae Patrick

    Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

    CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - The Southern Illinois volleyball team snapped a four-match losing streak and remained perfect in non-conference play for the first time in program history with a 3-1 (25-23, 17-25, 25-19, 25-18) victory over Southeast Missouri State at Houck Field House Tuesday night.

    "This was a good win," Saluki head coach Brenda Winkeler said. "We really played well defensively and especially blocking, which were some areas we'd been missing and that's kind of what we are about. This was really a good sign."

    The Salukis (14-6) are 11-0 out of Missouri Valley Conference play this season after starting the season 10-0, winning three tournament championships.

    Southern recorded a season-high 99 digs in the win, out-digging SEMO (8-13), the No. 2 defense in the country at 19.66 digs per set.

    The Salukis also out-blocked the Redhawks 12.0 team blocks to 4.0, recording 20 block assists and two solo blocks in the win.

    In the first set, SEMO led by as many as four points until SIU recorded three-straight kills to tie the match, 9-9. SIU would pull ahead and hold steady to a two-point lead until a Saluki service error tied the set at 18-all.

    The Redhawks would regain the lead 21-19, until SIU bounced back taking advantage of a SEMO block error and Jennifer Berwanger kill to tie the set, 22-22. Southern would take the next four points for the win, 25-23, hitting .306 in the set with just three errors in 49 attacks.

    SEMO took control of the second set early, tied for the fourth and final time at 6-all before they would pull away for good, eventually taking the set 25-17. The Salukis were held to a zero hitting percentage with 10 kills and 10 errors.

    Following the break, SIU came out swinging, hitting .273 with just three errors. They led the entire set, up by as many as 10, 15-5, following a 7-to-0 run. But the Redhawks wouldn't roll, coming within two, 21-19, before SIU scored four-straight points on a Chandra Roberson kill and three-straight SEMO attack errors to win 25-19.

    The momentum was all in Southern's favor as they hit nearly .200 in the fourth and final set, recording 29 digs and four block assists for the 25-18 victory.

    The Salukis posted a season-best three double-doubles, led by Berwanger on the outside with 17 kills, 21 digs and a block assist. Roberson added 12 kills and six block assists, hitting a team-high .500 with just two errors in 20 attacks in the middle.

    Freshman outside hitter Laura Thole recorded her first career double-double, a 10 kill, 16 dig effort, while setter Rachael Brown posted her second, with 49 assists, 18 digs, one solo and three block assists.

    "Getting our outsides back on track was the best part of the night," Winkeler added. "I was really happy with (Thole's) play tonight with her first double-double. Also, it was good to have Jen get back on offensively that was definitely something we needed."

    Libero Lauren Blumhorst led all Salukis with 25 digs, while right side Alicia Johnson pitched in 16 to go with five block assists and seven kills. Jasmine Conner came off the bench for five kills, one solo and three block assists.

    "Chandra also stepped up and when Jasmine came in the middle with her blocking, that really changed each shot for them and I think that was key in those final two sets," Winkeler said.

    The Salukis return home to begin the second-half of MVC play when they host Bradley Friday (7 p.m.) and Northern Iowa Saturday (7 p.m.) in Davies Gym.