EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE volleyball evened its Ohio Valley Conference record to 2-2 and handed visiting Belmont its first conference loss Saturday at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars defeated Belmont 25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 19-25, 15-10. SIUE improved to 12-4 overall and 2-2 in the OVC while Belmont dropped to 8-7 overall and 3-1 in the OVC.
"It took true grit," said SIUE Acting Head Coach Kendall Paulus after the victory. "We knew it was going to be a tough match."
SIUE started on fire by leaping out to a 7-1 lead in the opening set, forcing the Bruins to take an early timeout. The Cougars would go on to hit .400 in the set led by five of Taylor Joens' team-leading 14 kills.
The second set, however, was about face for the Cougars. Despite Belmont continuing to struggle on offense, SIUE recorded 11 attack errors in the second set. Two SIUE attack errors ended the set.
SIUE reversed course back again in the third set, hitting .276 for the set. Dylynn Otte and Joens each had three kills in the set.
"I was glad that we were able to battle back from that," said Paulus.
Belmont, which entered the match ranked 27th nationally in service aces per set, never found its rhythm behind the serving line. Brie Lewis had two service aces and Jessica Vestal added one, but the team combined for 17 service errors.
The Bruins pushed once more in the fourth set, collecting 12 kills and took advantage of nine SIUE attack errors.
That sent it to a fifth set where each team's offenses took over. Belmont's Arianna Person recorded five of her match-high 18 kills in the fifth set. SIUE, which raced out to a 6-1 lead in the set, used a balanced approach with three kills from Joens and three more from Ashley Witt, who finished with 11 overall.
Samantha Knight's early serving, including her only service ace of the match, provided the eventual margin of victory.
As a team, SIUE hit .156 with 49 kills. Belmont hit .097 as a team with 46 kills.
The Cougars continue this homestand with two matches next week for Homecoming. SIUE faces UT Martin in a 7 p.m. match Friday followed by a 2 p.m. contest Saturday against UT Martin.