CHICAGO - Volleyball is played best of five - the Cougars needed all five sets to earn their second victory of the season, completing a rare reverse sweep of the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Saturday afternoon (18-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-11).

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The Colonels gave SIUE all they could handle in the opening two sets, hitting at a .357 clip in the first set and a .343 clip in the second to claim the sets by a combined 10 points. However, the Cougars' next point mentality proved to be the difference in the following three sets, as they would hold the EKU attackers to a hitting percentage of under .275 for the remainder of the match, outscoring the Colonels by a factor of 65-55. This is SIUE's first reverse sweep of the season and one of the season's first reverse sweeps in all of Division I.

"We love how hard we had to fight for that win," said SIUE Head Coach Kendall Paulus following the win. "Eastern Kentucky really challenged us defensively. To come back from two sets down is hard not just physically, but mentally. For us to pull that out and bounce back shows our grit."

Individually, the Cougars were led offensively by Julia Treichel and Savannah Christian, who registered 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Christian's efforts are doubly impressive, as she hit at a season-high .409. Drifka also led SIUE in assists with 25, followed closely by Grace Beekman's 17. The Cougars' blocking prowess also returned in today's match, as SIUE combined for a total of 15 team blocks to just six from the Colonels. Jessica Vineyard, who earned All-Tournament Team honors for the first time in her Cougar career, led all players with eight total blocks. Annie Ellis finished with six total blocks, equalling the total for the entire EKU side.

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"We made a lot of substitute changes, line up changes, and always felt great team chemistry," added Paulus. "We had a lot of diverse players and that shows by how much we can move them around."

SIUE Volleyball Drops Pair of Matches at Rambler Challenge

CHICAGO - SIUE volleyball fell twice on Friday at Loyola Chicago's Rambler Invitational, dropping a 3-0 decision to Xavier (19-25, 14-25, 20-25) before falling in four sets to host Loyola Chicago in the nightcap (13-25, 18-25, 25-20, 19-25).

Match 1 - SIUE vs. Xavier
SIUE would play in the opening tournament match for the second consecutive weekend, this time hoping for a different result against a strong Xavier squad; however, the Musketeers overwhelmed the Cougars in straight sets, holding the Cougars to a hitting percentage of .113 and just one total team block. True freshman Ainsley Ranstead continued to show her quality on the outside, leading the Cougars with nine kills and registering six digs. Jessica Vineyard led SIUE in hitting percentage with a .364 clip (5-1-11).

Match 2 - SIUE at Loyola Chicago
The Cougars' second match of the day would see SIUE face off against host Loyola Chicago, and the Cougars began to find their footing and return to form as a formidable defensive juggernaut. Annie Ellis led the way with an impressive six block assists, joined at the top by Vineyard's three solo blocks. In total, SIUE outblocked the Ramblers, 9-6.

The first and second sets were near mirrors of each other - the Cougars and Ramblers would trade blows through the opening moments before Loyola Chicago would mount a lengthy scoring run that would seal the set in favor of the hosts; however, this would not be the case in the third set, as SIUE stormed ahead early and never looked back to claim their first set win of the tournament. The good times would not last, as the hosts narrowly edged the Cougars in the fourth set to claim the match.

The Cougars will return to action next Friday when they make the long distance trip to Fort Collins, Colorado, for their final away nonconference weekend tournament of the season. First serve in their weekend opener against Colorado State is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT.

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