Annie Ellis in action. Photo by Sarah King.

CHARLESTON - SIUE volleyball entered the conference win column for the first time this season on Tuesday, downing in-state rival Eastern Illinois in four sets (22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-22).

Annie Ellishad a tremendous day for the Cougars and recorded 10 kills and six total blocks on the day. Ellis is an Edwardsville High School graduate.

The Cougars got off to a sluggish start in the opening set, as a back-and-forth game went the way of the Panthers in a 25-22 affair. The Cougars hit for a match-low .179 in the set, registering just 12 kills in the effort; however, the Red & White would quickly shake off the rust and put forth a dominant effort for the remaining three sets.
The second set started in a similar manner to the first, but a lengthy 7-0 scoring run midway through the set proved to be the difference in securing their first set win since the second frame of a losing effort against Tennessee Tech (Sep. 25). The third set saw the Cougars continue to impress on the attack, posting a conference season-high .371 hitting percentage that carried SIUE to a 25-18 third set win. The Cougars were also formidable when the ball was on the other side of the net, holding the hosts to a clip of just .129 in the frame. The momentum continued into the fourth set, as the Red & White built a sizeable lead heading into the late stages. EIU pulled to within two points in the final moments, but a Panther service error put the match to bed and gave SIUE its first Ohio Valley Conference victory of the 2021 season.

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"We started slow in each set, but we love the fight and calm demeanor we had to come back," said SIUE Head Coach Kendall Paulus following the win. "We were really balanced and had one of our best serving nights, and the balance helped us eliminate some errors which we needed. A huge team effort tonight, both offensively and defensively."

Individually, Savannah Christian put together a career performance against the Panthers. The redshirt sophomore put together the best eligible hitting performance of her career, recording season-highs in kills (15) and hitting percentage (.542). The .542 mark stands as Christian's second-best hitting percentage of her collegiate career, only bested by her error-free .619 clip at Belmont last spring. Julia Treichel continued to show why she is one of the OVC's most well-rounded players, notching three service aces, 10 digs, five kills, and three total blocks. Also starring in Tuesday's win was true freshman Ainsley Ranstead, who recorded a season-best 19 assists in the contest.

SIUE, which improves to 4-12 overall and 1-4 in OVC play, will return to First Community Arena this Friday to kick off a two-match series against the Belmont Bruins. First serve on Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the match will be streamed live on ESPN+. Tickets are available at the door on match day or in advance online by clicking here.

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