Volleyball falls in three at Missouri State

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    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Missouri State defeated the Southern Illinois volleyball team in straight sets Saturday night, 25-16, 25-21, 25-19, officially eliminating the Salukis from postseason contention.

    SIU's loss coupled with an Indiana State win Saturday against Illinois State put the sixth and final spot for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament out of reach for the Salukis.

    "We struggled on offense tonight," said SIU head coach Brenda Winkeler. "We blocked well and had good stretches of play, but we did not have the offense to win."

    Southern (9-16, 3-13 MVC) set a troubling tone in the opening set, hitting for a -.047 percentage. The Bears (20-7, 13-3 MVC) scored more points in the first set on Saluki errors (12) than on kills (11).

    SIU improved its hitting percentage to .161 in the second set, but MSU also saw an uptick in its attacking as the Bears enjoyed an 18-11 advantage on kills in the set. The Salukis rallied from a four-point deficit to pull into an 18-18 tie in the second frame, but MSU closed the set on a 7-2 run. The Bears scored their final two points of the second set on Saluki errors.

    Southern jumped out to its biggest lead of the night at 8-3 to open the third set, but the advantage was short-lived. MSU used a 9-3 run to jump back into the lead and never let the Salukis back in front.

    The Bears picked up 16 more kills in the final set while the Salukis had 11. Southern finished the match with a .070 hitting percentage while MSU hit for a .205 clip. SIU had a strong night blocking, however, finishing with 11 team blocks compared with the Bears' seven.

    Most of SIU's offense came from the middle as Sarah James led SIU with nine kills and five total blocks while Alysia Mayes had eight kills and six total blocks. Setter Rachael Brown finished with 27 assists and libero Bailey Yeager had 12 digs.

    The Salukis will look to send their seniors out on a winning note next weekend as Southern closes the 2011 season at Davies Gym against Bradley and Northern Iowa.