CARBONDALE -- The Southern Illinois University volleyball team closed out play at the Saluki Bash with a four-set win over Southeastern Louisiana. Southern won by the set scores of 25-23, 25-15, 22-25 and 25-22.
The Salukis won despite playing without their leading attacker in freshman Alex Washington. Washington, who had put down double-digit kills in four-straight matches heading into Saturday, was hampered by a foot issue and was unable to go. Bailey Neuberger, who made her collegiate debut the night before against SIUE, made her first collegiate start in Saturday's win and tallied seven kills, a match-high four aces and seven digs.
"I thought we did a brilliant job of stepping up," first-year head coach Ed Allen said.
It wasn't the only injury to a starter that the Salukis had to overcome in the win. Emma Baalman, who had a career-high three aces as Southern's serving middle hitter, went down in the fourth set and Lindsey Paulsen came on her place. She performed admirably- she not only served for the first time this season and got all three serves in-play, but also recorded her first dig of the season.
Kyra Hunter also helped pick up the slack offensively in Washington's absence, as she played a full match for the first time in her brief Saluki career. She tallied a season-best 12 kills and added two block assists. Five of Hunter's 12 kills came in the 25-23 set one win.
"Kyra came in and did a nice job on the right side, particularly early in the match," Allen said. "She took care of the ball and was aggressive with her swing. She came up with some pretty easy kills because of how lively her arm is."
Hannah Becker, Southern's utility hitter that has seen significant time at both middle and on the right side this season, put down seven kills for the third-straight match and added a team-best four block assists.
"There are few players that can do what Hannah does," Allen said. "She gives us flexibility and allows us to solve a lot of problems that we have. Her numbers are always average because she has to play two different positions and there aren't many people that can put up average numbers at two positions."
Rachel Maguire and Savannah Sheridan were each named to the All-Tournament Team after their performances Saturday. Maguire tallied her second career triple-double, as she finished with 12 kills, 17 assists, 11 digs and two aces. Sheridan, meanwhile, hit. 383 on the weekend, including .333 with 10 kills on 24 swings in the win over the Lions.
Maguire was one of five Salukis to record at least one ace and Southern served up a total of 13 aces- which was not only a season-high but it was the most for the Salukis in a match since Sept. 5, 2007 (a 3-0 win over WIU) when sets were played to 30 points.
"I thought that we located the ball well," Allen said. "There were times we could've served it a little tougher than what we did but I thought we took care of the ball better than we did Friday night against SIUE."
Defensively, Southern tallied six blocks and had four players with 10-plus digs, led by Maguire's 15. Alayna Martinadded 13 digs to go along with 25 assists, while Katy Kluge chipped in 12 digs and an ace and Laura Rojas dug out 10 balls and added three aces, which included an ace on match point.
The Salukis, winners of three of their last four matches, return to Davies Gym on Tuesday, Sept. 10 when they host the SEMO Redhawks. First serve is set for 6 p.m.