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SIUE Volleyball Wins Fort Wayne Invitational

Jackie Scott, Emily Harrison and Taylor Joens were named to the All-Tournament team.
Jackie Scott, Emily Harrison and Taylor Joens were named to the All-Tournament team.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – SIUE volleyball opened the 2017 season with a tournament title at the Fort Wayne Invitational Presented by Hyatt Place, adding victories Saturday over host Fort Wayne and Quinnipiac.

Taylor Joens, Emily Harrison and Jackie Scott were named to the All-Tournament team.

"I think we're in a really good spot, but it was good to see areas where we can improve," said SIUE Acting Head Coach Kendall Paulus.

SIUE defeated Fort Wayne 17-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-14. The Cougars overpowered Quinnipiac 25-20, 25-19, 25-17.

Paulus was able to enter 15 players in the match against Quinnipiac.

"I can't tell you how happy that made our entire team," said Paulus. "Playing your first collegiate match is one of the scariest moments in a student-athlete's career. To get that under their belt and for them to come off with a smile on their face, it reassures me that if we need a set from them later they will be ready."

The Cougars were able to get first collegiate action for Annie Ellis, Rachel McDonald, Gabby Wimes and Arika Johnson.

Paulus also was quick to point out the effort of senior libero Katie Shashack. She finished the weekend with a team-leading 44 digs as well as 14 assists.

"She played phenomenal," said Paulus. "There were balls that were hit very hard, and Katie stepped in for a perfect dig. She provided so much stability for us in the back row with serve receive and defense."

SIUE flexed its offense Saturday, especially in the Quinnipiac match. Scott and Ashley Witt each had 10 kills in the three-set match, but it was the offensive efficiency that proved tough for the Cougars' opposition.

Harrison hit .900 against Quinnipiac with nine kills in 10 attacks. Joens hit .571 with eight kills in 14 attacks. As a team, SIUE hit better than .290 Saturday.

"Our passers were doing a great job keeping us in system," said Harrison. "Our setters were doing a great job of reading the other side of the net and giving the hitter the ball for a one on one."

SIUE now has the week to prepare for its home opener at the Vadalabene Center Friday. The Cougar Classic gets underway with SIUE facing Wright State at 7 p.m. Next Saturday, SIUE meets Tulsa at 12:30 p.m. and UMKC at 7 p.m.

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