Redhawks volleyball team ends skid against Cougars

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Southeast volleyball team swept future OVC member SIU-Edwardsville

A break from Ohio Valley Conference play offered the Southeast Missouri State volleyball team a strong chance to snap its four-match losing streak.

The host Redhawks took advantage Tuesday night, sweeping Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 25-20, 25-23, 25-19.

Southeast improved to 7-12, while dropping future OVC member SIUE to 1-18.

"I think we played very well," junior Emily Hughes said. "We had a lot more energy than we've been having."

The Redhawks got off to a slow start as SIUE led 8-3 in the first game. But Southeast had control the rest of the way.

"Coming out we were a little bit shaky," junior Kelly Benacka said. "But we just calmed down and we were really relaxed the last two games.

"That's when we play our best, when we're having fun."

Southeast has been riddled by injuries, which has contributed greatly to its recent struggles. Coach Renata Heard was pleased to see the Redhawks get back in the win column.

"We played with confidence," Heard said. "They had fun out there and they competed."

Hughes led Southeast's offense with 16 kills and just one error for a dazzling .536 attack percentage. She entered play sixth in the OVC in kills per set and fifth in attack percentage.

Senior Karleigh DeLong, who has missed time with an injury, had 14 kills. She entered the night fifth in the OVC in kills per set.

Benacka recorded her team-high ninth double-double of the season as she finished with 37 assists and 11 digs.

Benacka has started the past 10 matches at setter in place of injured senior Sarah Barth, who is out with a broken wrist suffered right before OVC play started. Benacka never before had played the setter position.

"I enjoy it," said Benacka, fifth in the OVC in assists. "I always wanted to be a setter. That's kind of the joke with our team -- they say I broke Sarah's arm."

Asked how she decided on Benacka as her setter when Barth went down, Heard said: "She was the first one that volunteered. She's always wanted to be a setter."

Senior Molly Davis had 17 digs.

Junior Claire Keaton, who recently returned from an injury, had 13 digs and sophomore Paige Dossey added 10.

Southeast, 3-6 in the OVC, resumes conference play Friday when Eastern Illinois visits for a 7 p.m. match.

"Hopefully this gives us some momentum getting back into conference," Hughes said.

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