SIUE Sets Up Showdown For Tops in OVC

Taylor Joens
Taylor Joens

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – After defeating Austin Peay in three sets Friday night, SIUE volleyball travels to Murray State Saturday at 7 p.m. with both teams looking for an Ohio Valley Conference title.

"We are thrilled to have earned an opportunity to compete for a conference title tomorrow," said SIUE Head Coach Leah Johnson. The Cougars, who have won nine straight matches, collected their 20th win of the season and is now 20-6 overall and 13-2 in OVC play. Both win marks are bests in program history at the NCAA Division I level.

SIUE, a 25-17, 25-22, 26-24 winner over Austin Peay, is guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed for next week's OVC Tournament but three scenarios exist for who will be the No. 1 seed.

If SIUE wins in three or four sets at Murray State, SIUE will be co-OVC regular season champions with Murray State and the Cougars will be the No. 1 seed. If SIUE wins in five sets, SIUE will be co-OVC regular season champions but Murray State will be the No. 1 seed and tournament host due to league tiebreakers. A Murray State win would clinch the OVC title for the Racers and the top seed.

On Friday, The Cougars avenged a five-set loss earlier this season at the Vadalabene Center against Austin Peay, effectively pushing back with steady offense and defense.

"The team was dialed in and aggressive," said Johnson. "I was very proud of how every player executed our system and game plan adjustments."

Taylor Joens led all players with 15 kills followed by 12 from Emily Harrison. No Austin Peay player finished with double-digit kills for the match.

"Joens had a big match offensively and was equally strong against Austin Peay's middle dominant offense. Emily was lethal on the slide and aggressive as a blocker," noted Johnson.

Austin Peay tested SIUE libero Katie Shashack, but the junior was up to the task finishing with a team-high 21 digs.

"Katie had one of her best matches on both sides of the ball, steady serve receive and scrappy defense," said Johnson. "It was a team effort all around."

SIUE hit .226 for the match as a team. Austin Peay, which entered the day leading the OVC in hitting percentage, was held to a .099 hitting percentage.

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