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Southeast volleyball team aims high after latest conference wins
The resurgent Southeast Missouri State volleyball team has set lofty goals for this season.
"We've got it in our minds we're not going to lose a match in conference," junior middle blocker Emily Coon said.
Whether the Redhawks can pull off such an incredible feat remains to be seen.
But Southeast notched two more Ohio Valley Conference wins this weekend, 25-16, 25-20, 26-28, 25-19 Friday against Austin Peay and 25-22, 25-15, 25-15 Saturday against Murray State. Both contests were at home.
"It was a great weekend for us," Coon said.
Southeast improved to 14-7 overall and 6-0 in OVC play as the Redhawks continued the program's best start since 2000. The squad already has matched last year's overall victory total, which was coach Julie Folliard's first season.
Folliard, taking over a team that missed the OVC tournament the previous two seasons and coming off a ninth-place finish, led the 2011 Redhawks to a fourth-place OVC showing and their first OVC tournament berth since 2008.
"There are still things we want to improve on, but I'm just happy with the way we're playing," Folliard said.
The Redhawks, with 10 conference matches left, already have a commanding lead in the OVC West Division. Every other division opponent has at least three league losses.
"I think we're just separating ourselves from everybody else in the division," Folliard said.
The young Murray State squad coached by former Southeast assistant David Schwepker was no match for the Redhawks in front of nearly 350 fans at Houck Field House.
The Racers (3-13, 1-5) pushed Southeast in the opening game. But the Redhawks held MSU to an attack percentage of less than .100 in the final two games en route to their first conference sweep of the season.
"It was a lot of fun," senior outside hitter Brittney Kalinoski said. "We just all really moved well together. It was really smooth volleyball."
Kalinoski said the Redhawks try to improve every match regardless of their opponents.
"We just talk about getting better and improving our level of play," she said.
Kalinoski led Southeast offensively against the Racers with 12 kills. Junior outside hitter Colleen Yarber had 11 kills. Coon added nine kills and four blocks.
Junior setter Julie Shives, who recently moved into seventh place on the Southeast's career assists list, dished out 34 more.
Junior libero Berkley Idel paced the Redhawks' defense with 17 digs.
"We had great passing and our blocking was on. Everything really was working," Coon said.
Senior Wendi Zickfield, a Central High School graduate, had four kills and a .571 attack percentage for the Racers.
Yarber led Southeast against Austin Peay (9-12, 3-3) with 18 kills and 11 digs. She also had four service aces.
Shives also had a double-double as she recorded a season-high 50 assists to go along with 11 digs.
Kalinoski was yet another double-double performer with 13 kills and a team-high 12 digs.
Coon added 12 kills and a .427 attack percentage.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Taylor Masterson posted five blocks while Coon added four.
"Austin Peay is always a team we want to beat and Murray is kind of a rival," Coon said. "Beating those teams is a good thing for us."
So is Southeast's perfect record in conference play.
"Being 6-0 in conference is a great thing," Coon said.
Southeast continues its five-match homestand Friday when first-year OVC member Belmont visits at 6:30 p.m.