The Loyola women’s volleyball team (12-6, 5-0) remains undefeated in conference play with a 3-1 victory over Southern Illinois University at Gentile Arena Friday night.
The Ramblers were led by redshirt senior middle blocker Heather Kocken with 15 kills, and she also recorded one assist and one dig. Junior middle blocker Elle Van Grinsven also contributed 11 kills and a service ace.
“Southern Illinois pushed us, especially in that fourth set they were really making a big comeback,” Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said. “We figured out how we have to play to stop the runs, and I think that was a really good learning experience for us.”
Loyola never trailed by more than two in the first set, and an early 7-0 run gave the Ramblers a lead they didn’t give up. A kill from Addie Barnes to end the set put the Ramblers up 1-0 as they won the first set 25-18.
The second set saw Loyola start slow and never recover. The Salukis came out to a 10-5 lead which they never relinquished. Loyola was able to tie the set twice at 20-20 and 22-22, but the Salukis powered through to take the second set 25-23 and tie the set score 1-1.
The third set was controlled by the Ramblers as they started out hot and never slowed down. A 5-0 run to start the set was a sign of things to come for the Ramblers as they never trailed throughout the third set and led by as many as eight. The Salukis managed to pull within four points, but the Ramblers pulled through and took the third set 25-20. This extended Loyola’s lead to 2-1 over the Salukis.
The fourth set saw Loyola dominate once again. Loyola led by as many as 12 and went on to win the set 25-17 and the match 3-1.
The loss drops Southern Illinois to 2-3 in conference play and 10-9 overall. The Salukis were picked to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), while the Ramblers were picked to finish fifth. Following this match, Southern Illinois sits in a tie with Valparaiso University for sixth in the MVC. The Ramblers and University of Northern Iowa (6-0) are the only two undefeated teams in the MVC.
After extending their winning streak to five games, Berkley said the team has found its rhythm and plans to keep this winning streak alive.
“We just have to make sure that we [remain] focused and disciplined, especially defensively,” Berkley said. “I think we just have to make sure that we stay focused for tomorrow.”
Loyola is scheduled to continue its season Oct. 12 against Missouri State University at Gentile Arena. First serve is scheduled for 4 p.m.