Shives fills needed hole on Southeast volleyball team

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Southeast's freshman setter is playing well so far

Southeast Missouri State was looking for a setter and Julie Shives was looking for a college.

The pairing has worked out well for both parties so far.

Shives, a freshman, has started every match for the Redhawks this season, including Tuesday night's 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20 loss to visiting Saint Louis University.

"She's our quarterback," said Southeast coach Renata Heard, whose squad fell to 5-12 with the nonconference defeat. "She's young and she's going to make some young mistakes, but when she's good, we're good."

Shives recorded her team-leading ninth double-double of the season against SLU (9-9) with 32 assists and 11 digs.

Shives not only leads the Redhawks in assists -- a given considering her role as setter -- she also tops Southeast in service aces with 16 while ranking third in digs with 179 and fifth in kills with 59.

"I'm happy with the way I'm playing but I know I can play a lot better," said Shives, who has 578 assists. "It's a very good experience. Most freshmen don't get to play this much right away."

Shives, the only Southeast player to have started all 17 matches, felt she was under-recruited coming out of Grove City, Ohio, a Columbus suburb.

"Buffalo was really the only other school I was looking at," she said.

Shives said a tip from a club volleyball teammate who already had signed with the Redhawks during the NCAA's early signing period in November led her to Southeast.

"I played with Andrea Baylin and she told me SEMO needed a setter," Shives said. "I contacted coach and committed about a month later."

Shives, who signed with Southeast in April, felt the chance to start immediately was too good to pass up.

"It was a very good opportunity," she said. "I knew I'd have the responsibility. It was pressure, but I've been able to handle it."

Although the Redhawks have not played nearly as well as they had hoped so far this year, Shives said she couldn't have made a better college choice.

"I'm really glad I'm here," she said.

As far as Tuesday's match, Southeast dug itself a hole by losing the first two games.

The Redhawks rallied to win the third game but couldn't hold on to an early lead in Game 4.

"For us right now, we're just trying to find that will to play from start to finish," said Heard, whose squad was missing starters Emily Hughes and Karlee Lursen with injuries. "We'll have spurts of it, but we just have to be more consistent."

Junior Paige Dossey led Southeast in kills with 14.

Senior libero Kelly Benacka, who entered the match 27th nationally in digs per set, paced Southeast with 16 digs.

Senior Meagan Webb added 15 digs. Baylin contributed 10 digs.

Junior Alyssa Deno led the Billikens with 17 kills and 15 digs.

Southeast returns to Ohio Valley Conference action Thursday at Tennessee-Martin, followed by a Friday match at Murray State.

The Redhawks are tied for eighth in the 10-team OVC at 2-5. Tennessee-Martin is last at 1-7, while Murray is tied for sixth at 3-5. The top six finishers qualify for the OVC tournament.

"These are two really big matches," Heard said.

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