Salukis stage late rally to defeat volleyball


Cardona finishes with 23 kills 

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Late rallies in the third and fourth set saw Southern Illinois clinch a 3-1 victory over the University of Evansville volleyball team on Saturday evening inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse.

Giulia Cardona recorded a match-high 23 kills while Melanie Feliciano picked up 17 kills while hitting a strong .312.  Kora Ruff and Ainoah Cruz anchored the defense with 22 and 20 digs, respectively.  Ruff added 41 assists.  Madisyn Steele led the way with six total blocks while Brooke Springer finished the night with five.  Southern Illinois was led by Nataly Garcia’s 20 kills and 20 digs.

Game 1 – SIU 25, UE 21

Opening the contest scoring three of the first four points, the Salukis had the early momentum, but the Purple Aces grabbed a 7-5 lead thanks to a pair of Giulia Cardona kills, followed by two Melanie Feliciano aces.  Madisyn Steele and Emilee Scheumann assisted on a block that pushed the lead to 11-8 before SIU countered.

Four in a row put the Salukis back in front and the squads exchanged the lead multiple times, resulting in a 20-20 score.  Southern Illinois broke the tie with two in a row and would take a 25-21 decision.

Game 2 – UE 25, SIU 17

Seeing her first action of the night, Angelica Maltes Gonzalez recorded a pair of kills to cap off a 7-2 rally to open the second set.  Feliciano kept things going with three kills in a row to extend the lead to 15-7.  Over the remainder of the set, the Salukis never got closer than six points as the Aces tied the match with the 8-point victory.

Game 3 – SIU 28, UE 26

Both teams spent time in the lead throughout the opening sequence of game three.  With things tied at 7-7, Evansville jumped in front when Angelica Gonzalez Maltes began a 4-0 run with a pair of kills.  Steele recorded a block before Cardona capped off the stretch with an ace.  UE extended its lead to as many as five points when a Feliciano kill stabilized a 16-11 advantage.

Southern Illinois slowly closed the deficit, but the Aces remained in a solid position, holding a 23-21 edge.  Unfortunately, three in a row by the Salukis put them in front before they wrestled away a 28-26 win.

Game 4 – SIU 25, UE 20

Things could not have started better in the fourth set as the Aces scored the opening six points.  Brooke Springer had a solo block in the early run.  SIU made its way back, chopping the deficit to just one at 14-13.  Maddie Hawkins helped the Aces retake an 18-14 lead with her first service ace of the match.

Just when it looked like UE had retaken control, SIU countered with a huge run to finish off the match.  They outscored the Aces by an 11-2 margin to clinch the match.  The Aces are back on the road next weekend to face Drake and UNI.