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Redhawks open OVC play with sweep
Southeast evened its overall record with a victory over Tennessee-Martin.
It's hard to imagine Southeast Missouri State beginning Ohio Valley Conference volleyball play with a more dominant performance.
The Redhawks pounced on Tennessee-Martin from the start Friday night and romped 30-19, 30-15, 30-22 at Houck Field House.
"I know that wasn't Martin's best game, but we were on. We just executed," Southeast coach Renata Nowacki said. "We dominated from start to finish."
Southeast, which evened its overall record at 7-7 by winning for the sixth time in its past seven matches, never trailed. There were only three ties all night -- at 5-5 in the first game, and at 7-7 and 16-16 in the third game.
"Everything was working out pretty well for us," senior setter Jamie Baumstark said.
Added senior outside hitter Jessica Koeper: "It's a great way to start out conference."
Tennessee-Martin was picked dead last out of 11 teams during the OVC's preseason poll, but the Skyhawks carried an 11-3 record and eight straight wins into Friday's contest.
The Skyhawks, however, were never really in the match. They finally pushed Southeast a bit in the third game, being tied 16-16 and trailing 22-21 before the Redhawks pulled away.
"We wanted to start off conference real strong," junior middle blocker Brenna Schlader said.
Schlader had 18 kills, only one error and a sizzling 70.8 attack percentage. She added four blocks.
"She played with confidence," Nowacki said.
Koeper added 12 kills, while Baumstark had 34 assists, seven kills, seven digs and two service aces.
Freshman defensive specialists Molly Davis and Taylor Harbster recorded 16 digs and nine digs, respectively. Davis also had two aces, as did freshman middle blocker Hannah Weis. Junior outside hitter Brittany Hastings added seven kills.
"It was a team win," Schlader said.
Asked if the performance was perhaps Southeast's best of the season, Nowacki said, "It was up there. But we still can play a lot better."
After playing their first 12 matches on the road, the Redhawks were for the second time in three days sparked by an enthusiastic home crowd, which was swelled to about 250 partly because of a tailgate party of free hot dogs and soda, along with free admission.
"We had a great crowd, and we really appreciate all the fans," Nowacki said.
Nowacki hopes for more support today when Southeast finishes its two-match OVC homestand with a 2 p.m. contest against Murray State (9-2), which is off to its best start in school history and began league play Friday with a win at Eastern Illinois.
"Murray is going to be tough, and we really need to come out strong," Nowacki said.
Southeast's OVC soccer match against Murray State scheduled for Friday night at Houck Stadium was postponed early in the day due to the threat of inclement weather.
The match has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Southeast (3-4) begins OVC play Sunday with a 2 p.m. home game against Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks (2-6-1) lost at Eastern Illinois 1-0 Friday in their OVC opener.