The SIUE women’s volleyball team took two out of three games this past weekend in the Omaha Classic.
The Cougars opened the weekend with a game against Southern Utah Friday. SIUE was able to win the match in four sets 22-25, 25-12, 25-13 and 25-22, giving the team its first win of the 2013 season.
SIUE had three different players earn double-digit kills in the game. Sophomore middle blocker Kristen Torre racked up 10 kills and senior outside hitter Cori Harris added 11 kills. Senior outside hitter Hilary Trevino led both teams with a total of 15 kills in four sets.
Later that evening, the Cougars played their second match of the day, taking on host Omaha. SIUE won the match in straight sets. The final score of the match was 26-24, 25-21 and 25-13.
Harris and Trevino both put up double-digit kills for the second time that day, earning 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
The Cougars’ success on Friday cannot be attributed to simply offensive prowess, Head Coach Leah Johnson said.
“We got after it defensively, and one great defensive play can spark the engine that sets everyone off … I would attribute [Friday’s performance] to the defensive effort and resiliency that we demonstrated in Friday’s matches. It kept us in every point and gave us one more opportunity to win every point,” Johnson said.
Junior defensive specialist Chelsea Coclasure led the way with 24 and 23 digs in the two matches the Cougars played on Friday.
On Saturday, the Cougars fell to Bradley in a tightly contested five-set match 25-19, 23-25, 22-25, 25-20 and 16-14. Senior middle blocker Kelsey Augustine, Trevino, and Harris each had 10 kills in the match. Torre led her team with 17 at the end of the game.
Errors brought the Cougars down in the 5th and final set of the tournament.
“We performed very well in the other matches when we limited our errors. In that set, we outplayed them in every aspect except the error column,” Johnson said. “We gave up points in the fifth set when we need that to be the cleanest set of the day. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that.”
The Cougars had two players selected to the All-Tournament team, freshman setter Mallory Mangun and Coclasure. Mangun averaged the second most digs on the team at 3.5 per set, following Coclasure who averaged 5.78 per set.
Mangun also contributed heavily in the assist category. She had the most assists in every game she played, with 42 against Southern Utah, 37 against Omaha and 51 against Bradley.
Mangun attributed her success to the relationship she has with her teammates.
“They rely on me to get them the ball, and from there, I know they will take care of the rest. The trust and confidence is there,” Mangun said.
Mangun and Johnson both agree that they are happy with the Cougars progress so far, but said there is room for improvement.
“We are going to keep working hard on and off the court. We will keep pushing each other as we continue to find the strengths and weaknesses in our game,” Mangun said.
Johnson said the Cougars were much more consistent across the board this weekend, but still struggled with their starts.
“Once we can establish a stronger start, we will be at an even better point,” Johnson said.
The SIUE women’s volleyball team will play at 7:30 p.m Friday in Evansville, Ind. They open up their weekend of play against Evansville in the University of Evansville Tournament.