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Cougars Drop Five-Set Match to Tennessee Tech

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - SIUE volleyball played another nailbiter Friday and dropped a five-set decision to host Tennessee Tech.

The Golden Eagles pulled out a 23-25, 25-19, 16-25, 26-24, 15-13 victory over the Cougars, now 7-15 overall and 2-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Tennessee Tech improved to 3-17 overall and 2-8 in the OVC.

Cori Harris and Kelsey Augustine led the charge for the Cougars with 11 kills each. Brooke Smith also stepped in as an outside hitter for four sets and tied her career high with 10 kills.

SIUE Head Coach Leah Johnson said Smith was a real highlight for the Cougars. "She was taking some big swings. I was really proud of her effort and scoring ability on the court."

Smith only finished with seven digs, but her defense was sharp Friday. "I know she only had seven, but some of her digs were really unbelievable."

SIUE displayed some comeback spirit in the first set. Tennessee Tech had the Cougars down 22-19 in the set. SIUE would go on to win six of the next seven points in the set, including kills by Augustine, Harris, Jessica Hemann, and Julia Whitfield with the set winner.

Johnson said the Cougars did not have good rhythm in the first set so she was pleased to gain a win in the set.

"I thought things were only going to get better from there," she said.

However, the two teams would end up going back and forth with the Golden Eagles taking the second and fourth set. SIUE hit a match-high .321 in the third set with a balanced attack. Eight different players would record kills in the set when SIUE had jumped ahead 2-1 in sets.

"After the second set break, they showed some urgency. The team really came out and took care of business," Johnson said.

The fifth set came down to the wire as both teams took the lead early before tying 6-6. The Golden Eagles took a three-point lead behind a pair of kills from Ellen Conti, who led all hitters with 21 kills. SIUE pulled to within a point at 14-13 on a bad set by TTU setter Lauren Stiles before Kelsey Gray made her 11th kills of the day the match winner.

SIUE now heads to Jacksonville State for a 2 p.m. match Saturday looking to get back in the win column.

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