Volleyball faced IUPUI, Western Michigan and Northern Arizona in Indianapolis this weekend, coming home from the tournament with three losses and a desire to make improvements for the following weekend.
“It wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but it was definitely an improvement from the TCU tournament weekend, so we’re just really hopeful that we’re going to continue to get better,” sophomore libero Jordyn Klein said.
SIUE lost Friday’s opening match against Northern Arizona 25-18, 22-25, 25-11, 25-19. Saturday the Cougars stayed on the Jaguars’ tails with scores of 25-19, 25-19, 25-23, and they pulled out another set win against Western Michigan but fell 25-18, 22-25, 25-13, 25-22.
“We definitely saw some improvement; we were even more competitive in all three matches. We had more people in consistent roles for the whole weekend,” Head Coach Kendall Paulus said.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Hope Everett had a weekend hitting percentage of .312 and came out with 29 kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Rachel McDonald earned All-Tournament honors, hitting .218 for the weekend and leading the team with 30 kills in the IUPUI Hampton Inn Invitational.
“There are a couple players from each team that are picked to represent, who strived in the tournament. I was blessed to be picked by the coaches,” McDonald said. “I give all my credit to my team, though; I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Against Northern Arizona, SIUE showed improvements with their best hitting percentage of .170 and 78 team digs.
With 10 kills and 10 digs, McDonald recorded her first double-double of the season. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Annie Ellis had nine kills and four blocks.
Defense against the Lumberjacks was led by Klein and junior outside hitter Dylynn Otte who had 18 and 17 digs, respectively.
“Jordyn played really well defensively. She kind of was the staple of our back row,” Otte said. “She was always scrambling to get balls up and made it possible for us to have an offense. So with her back there stepping into that role and really honing in on her libero position, which is a pressured position to be, I think she handled it very well. She had some great numbers this weekend.”
Against IUPUI the Cougars kept the sets close, and they came out strong in the first set, gaining a quick 10-4 lead and a tied the score at 19.
Neither team took more than a three point lead for most of set two. By set three the teams were tied at 23.
“It was the first time that we had really been in a few tight sets where we got to feel the butterflies and feel tight moments, and because it was the first time, it’s good to know how we responded and to be able to use that later,” Paulus said. “It was refreshing to feel that.”
Learning from these defeats, the Cougars are looking forward to making key improvements before their next tournament.
“We’re still working on gelling, so building off of last weekend and the weekend before. We never want to take steps back. Every day at practice we’re coming in and working hard. Building off last weekend we know our weaknesses, so we’re trying to turn those into strengths and just getting another opportunity to show that this weekend, we’re really excited,” McDonald said.
SIUE will play again 11 a.m. Friday in Kansas City at the Kangaroo Klassic.