ST. LOUIS -- The Southern Illinois University volleyball team split on day two of the Marcia Hamilton Classic, hosted by St. Louis University. The Salukis fell to the host Billikens, 3-1 (16-25, 25-21, 34-36, 18-25) before rebounding to defeat Middle Tennessee State, 3-1 by the set scores of 25-23, 25-14, 19-25, 25-21.
"We are pleased that the weekend progressed as it should -- we got better every time that we went out on the floor," head coach Ed Allen said. "We saw tremendous improvements today not only in our ability to execute a game plan but in our ability to compete."
In the win over Middle Tennessee State, Southern broke a 9-all tie in the opening set and never looked back. The Salukis carried that momentum over to the second set, as they built an eight-point cushion (15-7) at the midway point and cruised to a 25-14 set two win.
The third set featured six ties in the early going, as Middle Tennessee broke a 10-all tie with a 5-1 spurt to take a commanding lead that it never surrendered. It was the Salukis turn to break a tie with a big run in the fourth set, as they rattled off five-straight points to break a 12-all tie and never trailed after that despite having to go to its bench extensively because of injury. Kyra Hunter and Libby Valek both saw the floor for the first time this season during the fourth frame while Hannah Becker played middle for the first time this season.
"We did a nice job of really controlling the first two sets against Middle Tennessee State," Allen said. "We got too comfortable exchanging points in the third set and they got in a rhythm. But I thought we settled in during the fourth set and did a nice job of dealing with the adversity of having to adjust our lineup."
In the opener, a hard-fought battle went the Billkens way. After St. Louis took the first set, SIU rallied to tie the match at 1-all with a 25-21 set two victory. The third frame featured 11 set points and was the longest set for the Salukis since the NCAA adopted the 25-point set score in 2008. The Billikens kept their foot on the pedal and won set four, 25-18.
Rachel Maguire earned All-Tournament Team honors after she posted SIU's first triple-double since 2016, and the 23rd triple-double in program history, in the win over Middle Tennessee State. Maguire tallied 10 kills, 14 assists and 11 digs in the win and totaled 30 kills, 31 digs and 59 assists in Southern's three matches over the weekend.
Alex Washington notched back-to-back double-doubles on Saturday- as she put down 14 kills to go along with 11 digs against St. Louis and followed with 11 kills, 11 digs and two service aces in the win over the Blue Raiders. Emma Baalman tallied back-to-back 10-plus kill outputs Saturday, as she hit .714 with a career-high 11 kills on 14 swings against St. Louis and added 10 kills on 19 attempts versus MTSU.
Defensively, Southern was led by libero Laura Rojas, who set career-highs in digs (26) and assists (7) in the loss to the Billikens. Katy Kluge, who made her first career start against St. Louis, tallied a pair of kills and totaled 11 digs in the loss.
The Salukis notched a season-high eight blocks in the win over the Blue Raiders, paced by Maguire and Baalman, who each had three block touches apiece.
Dawgs open with loss to Portland State
ST. LOUIS -- The Southern Illinois University volleyball team dropped a three-set decision (25-19, 25-19, 25-20) to the Portland State Vikings Friday, August 30 to open play at the Marcia Hamilton Classic, hosted by St. Louis University.
Junior setter/hitter Rachel Maguire paced the Salukis and finished a dig shy of SIU's first triple-double since 2016. The junior from Bloomington, Ill. tied her career-high with 12 kills to go along with 20 assists and nine digs. Junior transfer Savannah Sheridan was also impressive in her Saluki debut, as she hit at a .450 clip and tallied nine kills on 20 swings without recording a hitting error.
Southern was undone by its miscues- the Salukis committed 30 total errors, including seven service errors and nine receiving errors. The Vikings, conversely, committed 17 errors and outhit SIU, .345-to-. 274.
SIU is back in action next weekend when they host the Saluki Bash. The Salukis will take on Alabama A&M (Friday, Sept. 6, 12:30 p.m.), SIUE (Friday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m.) and Southeastern Louisiana (Sat., Sept. 7, 1:30 p.m.) to kickoff an eight-match homestand.