Volleyball wins Columbia Classic

Freshman offensive hitter Dylynn Otte of Grand Rapids, Mich. and junior middle blocker Taylor Joens of DeMoines, IA., strike a ball towards Evansville in a match Saturday, Sept. 3., at the Vadalabene Center.

SIUE volleyball won the Columbia Classic Saturday defeating Manhattan University three sets to zero in the final match of the tournament.

Head coach Leah Johnson said she was pleased with the way the team played and was very excited they were able to win the whole tournament.

“It was an awesome tournament for us,” Johnson said. “We performed at a high level and took care of business when we needed to. It was a great weekend.”

The win was the third victory of the weekend and the fourth straight for the Cougars. Their undefeated weekend improves their record to 5-3.

Johnson said this tournament win was the first in school history since the program moved to Division I.

“[The first tournament win] was really special,” Johnson said. “To win our first ever preseason tournament was a very special experience.”

SIUE had standout performances from three players — senior setter Mallory Mangun, junior outside hitter Emily Harrison and junior middle blocker Taylor Joens.

Mangun, Harrison and Joens were named to the Columbia Classic All-Tournament Team due to their outstanding play.

“It was exciting [to be named to the All-Tournament Team],” Harrison said. “It validates all the hard work I put in as a freshman and sophomore. I also give a lot of credit to my [freshman] setter [Samantha] Knight, she put me in good situations.”

Joens was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after collecting a team-leading 13 kills against Manhattan. Joens finished with 42 kills and a .429 hitting percentage on the weekend.

“It was an honor to be named MVP,” Joens said. “But it definitely took a collaborative team effort to get there.”

Harrison finished with 34 kills and a team best .448 hitting percentage for the weekend. Mangun averaged 7.45 assists and 3.09 digs per set as the team’s starting setter.

SIUE hit .296 as a team and averaged 16.36 kills per set along with 2.09 blocks per set over the three games.

In Saturday’s final match, the Cougars finished with 50 kills and a .314 hitting percentage against the Jaspers. They also managed get to 15 players playing time during the match.

SIUE opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Columbia before dispatching of Bryant University in four sets.

The Cougars finished the match against Bryant with three players reaching double figures in kills. Joens led the team with 16 while Harrison and junior outside hitter Ashley Witt finished with 15 and 14 respectively. The team hitting percentage was a season best .319.

The Cougar defense contributed to the victory by collecting 80 digs in the match against Bryant with four players — Mangun, junior libero Katie Shashack, freshman libero Emma Leahy and Knight —   in double figures.

Knight’s serving set the pace early. The Cougars went on a 10-0 run early in the opening set against Columbia, thanks to the service of Knight.

Columbia recovered in the second set by hitting .297 to even up the match, but the Cougars offense was too much to overcome throughout the next two sets.

According to Harrison and Joens, the team had a great weekend off the court as well. They visited the sites around New York City. They viewed a broadway play, spent time in Central Park, road the subways and took time to visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum during the weekend of the tragedy’s 15th anniversary.

“We took the subway everywhere,” Harrison said. “We went to go see Cats and looked around Times Square. It was a lot of fun because most of our team had never done anything like that before.”

The Cougars now head to Chicago next weekend for the UIC Invitational. SIUE faces UMass-Lowell, UIC and Bowling Green.

 

 

 

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