Volleyball ends season with three-set loss to No. 11 UNI

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    Nov. 19, 2011

    Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois volleyball team had its season come to a close with a three-set loss to No. 11 Northern Iowa by scores of 13-25, 17-25, 15-25 Saturday night at Davies Gym.

    The Salukis (9-18, 3-15 Missouri Valley Conference) gave the top team in the conference all it could handle in the second set, but struggled to get shots past the Panthers (30-1, 18-0 MVC) in sets one and two.

    "Against a great Northern Iowa team, of course you'd like to take a set or even get an upset win," said SIU coach Brenda Winkeler. "But nobody has been able to do that all year."

    Southern struggled with its ball control throughout the first set, but rebounded in the second to go toe-to-toe with UNI. The Salukis tied the match at 11-11 and stayed within four points until the 21-17 mark when the Panthers closed the set with a 4-0 run.

    UNI jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second set and never let SIU back within six points, handily putting the set away by 10 points. Six players had five or more kills for UNI as the Panthers hit .310 as a team with 47 kills.

    "They are very well rounded. If you look at their offensive numbers, you hardly ever see that," Winkeler said. "You can't ever key on one person and know who is going to get the ball because they can go to anybody."

    Laura Thole led all attackers with 15 kills on a .244 hitting percentage and completed a double-double with 12 digs. Bailey Yeager led the defense with 14 digs while Rachael Brown had 23 assists.

    The match marked senior night for SIU as the Salukis recognized seniors Lauren Blumhorst and Amanda Arnold. Arnold started and played all three sets against the Panthers, finishing with four kills and nine digs.

    Blumhorst was sidelined by injuries before the start of the 2011 season, but stayed with the program and spent the year mentoring the defensive specialists. Winkeler reflected on both seniors following Saturday's match.

    "Amanda provided that hard work -- anything we wanted her to do, she would do," Winkeler said. "Lauren, even not playing, she was a vocal leader her four years. She is known for her enthusiasm and known for her effort."