By Ethan Cox
Today marked the second matchup between the Southern Illinois University Salukis and Drake Bulldogs. Previously, the Salukis won the first game 3-0 in Des Moines. With this being the seventh conference matchup for SIU, the Salukis were looking to get another win.
The game started with Drake taking an early 3-1 lead. Later in the first set, the Salukis were able to tie up the game. With the help of star setter, Meg Viggars, the Salukis took their first lead of the day on a 4-0 run, forcing Bulldog head coach Darrin McBroom to call a timeout. Drake returned from the time out with hope of regaining the lead. Bulldog Captain, Michelle Tommi, helped orchestrate the offense to score nine more points, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Salukis as they won the first set with the score of 25-15.
With the start of the second set of the match, Drake once again came off to a good start, taking the early lead of 3-0.
“That didn’t make us nervous at all”, said Saluki hitter, Andrea Estrada. “We played very calm and got back into the game”.
They very well did get back into the game, taking the lead this time on a 6-1 run. Unfortunately for the Salukis, the Bulldogs played a very cautious defensive strategy. They were able to fight back and tie the game at 9-9. Throughout most of the second set, the scoreline was even, with the score 16-16. With great offensive plays from Estrada, SIU pulled off the second set win, 25-18, with a little ease in their play.
The start of the third and final set had begun with Drake repeating what they had done the other two sets by taking the early lead. Scenes of Déjà vu struck for the Bulldogs as the Salukis again took the lead on a comeback run. Similar to the second set, the two teams were very evenly split in score for a good portion of the game. Frustration billowed on the Saluki sideline as some of the coaching staff thought differently on some calls the referee made. The Bulldog offense was looking exceptional, putting up 20 points. On the other hand, their defense could not stop the juggernaut offense of the Salukis. The set ended with an SIU win 25-20.
Final score 3-0 Salukis.
Setters Viggars and Hannah Kaminsky lead the team with a combined 39 assists out of the 42 total assists. Hitters Estrada and Taylor Pippen lead the team with kills, combining for 23 of the 45 team kills. Defensively, the Salukis performed outstanding, only giving up an average of 17 points per set and making 10 team blocks. The Salukis now improve to 5-2 in the MVC and are 14-6 overall. They will face an even tougher match tomorrow against the Northern Iowa Panthers (6-3 MVC) tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Davies Gym.