Cougars Close Out Best Western Falcon Plaza Invitational
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - SIUE volleyball finished off its final regular season tournament play Saturday with a pair of losses at the Best Western Falcon Plaza Invitational.
The Cougars, 5-6, closed out the tournament with a 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 decision to Michigan State. Earlier in the day, host Bowling Green defeated SIUE 25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20.
SIUE Head Coach Leah Johnson said she thought her team fought for every point. "They were very competitive this weekend. Our whole preseason has been like that," she added.
SIUE now turns its attention to the first official Ohio Valley Conference matches in school history. The Cougars play host to Murray State at 7 p.m. next Friday. SIUE faces Southeast Missouri in a 2 p.m. match Saturday at the Vadalabene Center.
Jessica Hemann earned All-Tournament honors at the Best Western Falcon Plaza Invitational. The senior middle hitter joined four other Cougars who have been named All-Tournament in this season's tournaments. Johnson said this weekend's performance by Hemann should help the Cougars going forward.
"I felt like Sammi Minton and Jessica re-established their connection from setter to hitter. That was something that was lacking in the preseason," Johnson said.
SIUE was able to gain one set in the loss to Bowling Green. Cori Harris recorded consecutive service aces to finish out the third set. The Cougars came from behind in the set thanks to a serving run by Kelsey Augustine. She served seven straight points to put SIUE up 21-19. That was thanks in part to three kills from Hemann and one each from Brianne Graunke and Harris.
Hemann and Graunke were the only players with double figures in kills against Bowling Green. Hemann hit .375 and finished with 12 kills. Graunke added 10.
SIUE notched a season-best seven blocks with four each from Augustine and setter Sammi Minton.
Paige Penrod led the Falcons of Bowling Green with a game-high 19 kills. Emily Kauth added 14 as Bowling Green hit .280 as a team.
The Cougars did not have as much success against Michigan State. The Spartans hit .312 as a team and were led by Alexis Mathews who finished with 11 kills on 15 attacks.
Julia Whitfield picked up a team-leading seven kills for SIUE while Harris added six.