Senior Elly Braaten
Nov. 15, 2013
“Tonight was the best crowd since I have been a Saluki,” said SIU head coach Justin Ingram. “I was amazed by the student support. They were rock solid and really got the energy going for us.”
Senior Elly Braaten turned in her best performance of the season punching in 11 kills on 15 swings to post a career-high hitting percentage of .733. Fellow senior Jessica Whitehead followed Braaten recording 14 kills.
“Elly Braaten was the catalyst for us tonight,” said Ingram. “For her to post that efficiency in the outside hitter position is just phenomenal.”
The Salukis (16-12, 11-5 MVC) opened up the first set leading Evansville (9-18, 4-12 MVC) by six off the steady serve of Alex Rivera. The Purple Aces responded, chipping away at the SIU lead with a monster 8-0 run to take an 11-8 advantage. Southern was able to add two more points but UE continued to test the Salukis compiling five more points to lead 19-11.
Freshman Hannah Kaminsky found her rhythm at the service line helping her team to come within one at 18-19 with seven flawless serves. Davies Gym became raucous as over 580 fans took to their feet. Southern fed off the energy putting away Evansville with a 5-0 run to take the first set 25-22.
“Evansville showed up with a good game plan and wanted to execute at a high level,” said Ingram. “The first set wan an odd set. We got stuck within our pass and needed to make some changes to get out of that.”
The Purple Aces kept it close in the opening of the second set holding a tie at nine. It wouldn’t take long for Southern to take control with help from Jessica Whitehead and Meg Viggars. The duo traded kills to push SIU to a 18-11 lead. A combination of five Saluki attackers knocking in kills late in the set helped Southern to a 25-18 set win. Southern had its best offensive set in the second recording 17 kills with a hitting clip of .424.
It was easy going for the Salukis in the third set as Evansville was only able to take one lead on the first serve. Southern Illinois controlled the duration of the set winning 25-16 to record its fourth consecutive win.
“As the tournament approaches we are playing at our sharpest but we have a tough weekend ahead of us and will begin to prepare for that after we enjoy this win tonight.”
Southern Illinois will play its final two regular season matches at home next weekend when they host Illinois State on Friday night and Indiana State on Saturday.