INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Rachel McDonald and Hope Everett each recorded 10 kills Friday, but the SIUE volleyball team dropped its opener at the IUPUI Hampton Inn Invitational to Northern Arizona.
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Northern Arizona improved to 4-1 with a 25-18, 22-25, 25-11, 25-19 victory over the Cougars, which fell to 0-4.
SIUE returns to action Saturday for a pair of matches. The Cougars take on tournament host IUPUI at 11 a.m. CT followed by Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m CT.
"We showed that we can perform at a higher level than we had shown in the first weekend," said SIUE Head Coach Kendall Paulus.
SIUE had its best outing of the season in team hitting percentage (.170) and team digs (78).
"We've been talking about taking calculated risks," said Paulus. "Because we were playing really good defense and being able to transition, we knew we could send over a few more easy balls to keep them inbounds."
McDonald, who recorded her first double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs, shared top scoring honors with Annie Ellis. Both finished with 11.5 points. Ellis had nine kills and four blocks. Everett matched her season high in kills.
"Rachel really moved the ball around well," said Paulus. "She took really swings in-system and out of system."
SIUE's defense was led by 18 digs from Jordyn Klein and 17 from Dylynn Otte.
Kaylie Jorgenson stepped up for Northern Arizona with 19 kills. Heaven Harris added 15.
SIUE and Northern Arizona split the first two sets with the Cougars coming from seven points down at one point in set two.
"I thought we went on a few good serving runs. I do think we had a good serving match that allowed us to play better defense because we made them a little more predictable. They were a really good team and challenged us across the board," added Paulus.
The Lumberjacks would end up hitting .267 as a team to push for the win.
With more matches Saturday, Paulus continues to see improvement.
"We absolutely look like a better team. We definitely got better from practice this week," said Paulus. "We should still have as much confidence going into tomorrow's matches than we did today."
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