SLU Hunter bags Otahkians

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Too much Colleen Hunter proved to be the downfall of Southeast Missouri State University's volleyball team Tuesday night.

Hunter came up with four crucial late blocks to turn the match in Saint Louis University's favor as the Billikens spoiled the Otahkians' home opener with a tense 30-25, 31-33, 30-19, 32-34, 15-11 victory in front of about 150 fans at Houck Field House.

SLU improved to 7-4 while Southeast, which had played its first 11 matches on the road, fell to 5-7.

Hunter, the Billikens' standout 6-foot-1 senior middle hitter, finished the night with 25 kills to go along with 11 digs, five blocks and three service aces.

"Being a senior, just in general in close matches your adrenaline really gets going," said a smiling Hunter. "About the only blocks I had were right at the end. I finally figured it out."

Bobbi Carlile, Southeast's star senior hitter, had two of her team-leading 25 kills to give the Otahkians a 9-7 lead in the fifth and deciding game.

That's when Hunter took over. Her consecutive blocks capped a 4-0 run that put the Billikens up for good. After Southeast pulled to within 11-10, a Hunter block made it 13-10 and another Hunter block put SLU up 14-11. The Billikens closed out the victory on an Otahkian error.

"Colleen is an extremely good player," SLU coach Marilyn Nolen said. "I think she got better as the night went along."

So did the Otahkians, which was a sore spot with coach Cindy Gannon, who felt her team came out of the starting blocks too slow.

"We played hard in the games we won and at the end, but we came out flat and that was disappointing to me, especially being our first home match," Gannon said. "SLU is a great team. I knew they'd be tough and I think this was probably one of our worst performances of the year."

Junior Sarah Frost had 21 kills for the Otahkians and senior Emily Johnson added 16. Junior Suzanne Gundlach led the way in digs with 27, followed by freshman Jill Miller with 17 and Carlile with 10. Junior setter Emily Scannell recorded 62 assists and 10 digs, Miller had four service aces and senior Emily Wahlman added four blocks.

Ember Knobeloch supported Hunter's big night with 23 kills of her own.

After losing the first game 30-25, the Otahkians rallied from a 26-20 second-game deficit to prevail 33-31 and show the Billikens that they might be in for a long evening.

SLU rolled 30-19 in game three, but the Otahkians again went long in game four to prevail 34-32 -- they saved two match points in the process -- setting the stage for the deciding game to 15 points.

Now the Otahkians will gear up for the start of Ohio Valley Conference play. Southeast opens its OVC schedule with two home matches this weekend, facing Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. Friday and Morehead State at noon Saturday.

"We're going to regroup and get ready for two big matches this weekend," Gannon said. "We have a mature team and I have confidence we're going to have a good OVC season. It's important we get off to a good start."

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