Even in these struggling times for Southeast Missouri State University's volleyball team, the Otahkians can still count on at least one thing -- beating Tennessee State.
Southeast extended its all-time record against TSU to 28-0 Friday night by rolling to a 30-19, 30-11, 30-14 victory in front of about 200 fans at Houck Field House.
The Otahkians, in danger of suffering their first losing season under 15th-year coach Cindy Gannon, improved to 3-13 overall and 2-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
The Tigers (4-10, 0-3) have lost 88 consecutive OVC matches, their last conference win coming in 1997.
"Tennessee State struggled tonight, but I told the team that we need to play with confidence like we did tonight no matter who we're playing," Gannon said. "We had fun tonight. Hopefully this will be a confidence boost for us. And we got to play everybody, which is always good."
Suzanne Gundlach, one of only three Southeast seniors, led Southeast's efficient offense with 13 kills and a .591 hitting percentage.
"I really think we needed this tonight, to prove to ourselves we could do it," Gundlach said. "We had a lot of fun out there and I think that helped us. We need to keep playing that way."
Freshman Jamie Baumstark followed Gundlach with nine kills as she hit .692. Baumstark also led the Otahkians in service aces with seven.
"Jamie played well," Gannon said. "She's a setter, but we've moved her because we've got Emily."
Emily Scannell, the Otahkians' standout senior setter, added eight kills and hit a sizzling .700. She also led in digs with 10 and assists with 27.
In addition to Baumstark, the Otahkians have received solid play this season from several other freshman, including Jessie Koeper from Jackson High School, who has started much of the year.
"Any time there's local talent I want to recruit it," Gannon said. "Jessie really came on her senior year at Jackson. She'll be a great player for us, and she's already contributing. So is another local player, Jessica Wilfong from Park Hills Central."
Koeper said her play as a rookie has surprised her somewhat, but she's happy to be a key contributor in her rookie campaign.
"I'm sort of surprised," she said. "It's a big difference from high school, mainly the speed of the game, but I think I'm doing well so far."
It hasn't hurt Koeper that her older sister, Andrea, also is in her first year with the Otahkians. Andrea Koeper came to Southeast on a basketball scholarship but gave up that sport after her freshman season two years ago.
"She keeps me motivated," Jessie said.
The Otahkians hit .423 as a team Friday with just seven attack errors, and they never trailed at any point in the match.
"We're 2-2 in the conference now, and hopefully we can get something going," Gannon said. "I think there is a lot of parity in the conference this year and I don't think anybody is going to run away with it, so we're still right in there."
Southeast returns with a 2 p.m. non-conference home match Sunday against Memphis.
Soccer beats Louisville
Southeast's women's soccer team scored the game's final two goals and posted a 3-1 non-conference win Friday over host Louisville.
The Otahkians improved to 6-2-3, while the Cardinals fell to 4-4-2.
Ashley DeRoy scored the Otahkians' final two goals in the second half. Molli Bears got Southeast's first goal as the Otahkians led 1-0 at halftime. Lisa Schweppe and Megan Hejlek added assists.
Southeast resumes OVC play today with a 1 p.m. game at Morehead State.
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