Last weekend, the Cougars played their first three home matches on the newly named First Community Arena against the University of Central Arkansas, Presbyterian College and Purdue University Fort Wayne. They lost all three matches, extending their losing streak.
Junior outside hitter Rachel McDonald said they went in with high expectations despite the losses, she was excited for the growth.
“We were very confident in who we were as a team,” McDonald said. “[It was] not our best handle at adversity, but we’re learning still and I really think the four weeks before conference are all just preparation. So I’m glad that we could see a little adversity.”
Against Central Arkansas, SIUE played five sets (25-22, 22-25, 25-26, 22-25, 12-15), winning sets one and three.
Head coach Kendall Paulus explained the team was adjusting throughout the weekend.
“We are still kind of moving some people around,” Paulus said. “The line-up isn’t exactly set, like we have an idea of what we like and what things work, but people are moving in and out of those. And that was actually something we were really excited about this past weekend, was just to see people come in off the sideline and do really well and have a lot of confidence.”
In their second match of the weekend, SIUE played a hard game against Presbyterian, only winning set three of four by 2 points. Presbyterian came in with consistent scoring throughout the match, playing an even 25 each set.
Despite losing to Presbyterian, the teams had comparable stats. Blocks were 9-7 SIUE, digs 64-60 Presbyterian and aces were 4-3 SIUE. Presbyterian shined in their hitting percentage, however, coming in at 0.285. SIUE had a 0.233 hitting percentage.
In their final match of the weekend gainst Purdue Fort Wayne, SIUE won sets three and four, but fell short in five. Although they lost, the Cougars still had some standouts.
McDonald and setter Sarah Armendariz both played double-doubles against the Mastodons. McDonald ended with 12 kills, 16 digs and 2 aces, and Armendariz finished with 18 assists, 12 digs and 2 aces.
Armendariz was not on the original roster and said she was excited she hit the court.
“In the first set, I wasn’t first on the roster to go and so ... it made me more eager to go in.,” Armendariz said. “So when they put me in for the last two matches [against Purdue Fort Wayne], I was excited and pumped because I had been working really hard in practice to get on the court. So a double-double was awesome for me.”
The Cougars will play their next match against Austin Peay State University at 6 p.m., Friday Sept. 27 at the First Community Arena at the Vadalabene Center.