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Southeast Missouri State volleyball team remains unbeaten in OVC
The Southeast Missouri State volleyball team pretty much had rolled through its first six Ohio Valley Conference opponents, losing no more than one game in any match.
Southeast finally was tested over the weekend -- and the Redhawks passed with flying colors.
The Redhawks remained perfect in OVC play by closing out a five-match homestand with two five-game comeback victories.
"We always have to make it interesting," Southeast coach Julie Folliard said with a smile.
Southeast put the finishing touches on its impressive weekend with Saturday afternoon's 25-16, 23-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10 win over Tennessee State.
That came just hours after Friday night's 25-18, 23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-13 triumph over first-year OVC member Belmont.
"I knew these would be the tests," Folliard said about facing two of the OVC East Division's top squads. "To get through the weekend was important for us."
Southeast, continuing the program's best start since 2000, improved to 16-7 overall and 8-0 in OVC play.
The Redhawks, who have won 10 of their past 11 matches, remain comfortably atop the OVC West Division standings halfway through their league schedule. Players say an undefeated conference record has crossed their mind.
"It would be great," junior outside hitter Colleen Yarber said. "I don't doubt we could do it."
Junior setter Julie Shives said the good thing about the Redhawks' lofty status is that they still have plenty of room for improvement.
"Very good comebacks, but we still can play a lot better," Shives said. "We're not playing at our top yet."
Yarber appeared to be at the top of her game over the weekend. She had a career-high 23 kills Saturday while hitting .404 and adding 14 digs. She posted 20 kills and 17 digs Friday.
"Wow, I didn't even know it," Yarber said when told of her career performance Saturday. "I love to be able to help my team win."
Yarber hammered 10 kills in Saturday's fourth game that tied the match. The Redhawks scored nine consecutive points to go ahead 9-1 in the fifth and deciding game before coasting to victory.
"Colleen really led us both days in the fourth and fifth sets," Folliard said.
Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Keeve added 12 kills Saturday and hit a match-high .526.
Shives, seventh on the program's all-time assists list, had 46 assists and 10 digs Saturday. She had a career-high 53 assists and 11 digs Friday. She now has surpassed 3,000 career assists.
Junior libero Berkley Idel tied a career high with 28 digs Friday and recorded 14 digs Saturday.
Senior outside hitter Brittney Kalinoski had a career-high 19 kills Friday and added 20 digs.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Taylor Masterson recorded 12 kills and six blocks Friday. She hit a match-high .360.
"They were both similar matches against similar teams," Yarber said.
Shives said she took special delight in beating Tennessee State (10-10, 5-3) because the Tigers had won the past four meetings between the squads over the last two years. All four matches went five games.
"Honestly, this was the team I wanted to beat because we haven't beat them since I've been here," Shives said.
The Redhawks said keeping their composure was the key to the two comeback wins.
"I guess everybody coming together and playing their game," Yarber said. "Staying positive and doing their job."
Said Folliard: "The key for us really was just emotional. We fought hard emotionally."
Southeast now hits the road for its next two OVC matches, including Friday's contest at two-time defending regular-season conference champion Morehead State.
Morehead, also the defending OVC tournament champion, leads the East Division with an 8-0 record.
Friday's match, the only regular-season meeting between the teams this year, could go a long way toward deciding the overall league champion. That squad hosts the conference tournament.
"That'll be a big game for us," Folliard said. "We'll have a lot of preparation for it."