Aces defeat Bears to even MVC mark
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Playing on its home floor inside Meeks Family Fieldhouse for the third time in five days proved to be a good omen as the University of Evansville volleyball team made it a 3-for-3 homestand with a 3-0 shutout over Missouri State on Tuesday evening.
For just the second time since joining the Missouri Valley Conference in 1994, UE (13-4, 3-3 MVC) has earned three consecutive shutouts over conference opponents. The other instance came in September of 2006 when Evansville defeated Drake, Illinois State and Indiana State by 3-0 scores. With the win, the Purple Aces improved to 13-4 on the season, its best start since 2010 when the team won 16 of its first 19 matches.
“We knew since pre-conference about the level we can play,” Aces head coach Fernando Morales explained. “When conference started, we were playing with too much pressure. Coming back home gave us the confidence to get our rhythm back again.”
Reigning MVC Player of the Week Melanie Feliciano picked up right where she left off over the weekend, leading everyone with 19 kills. She added 11 digs while hitting .586. Giulia Cardona and Alondra Vazquez also finished in double figure kills. Cardona recorded 17 while Vazquez finished the night with 14. Another efficient effort saw Cardona hit .486 while Vazquez was excellent defensively, recording 11 digs. Rachel Basinski and Kate Tsironis also made big-time contributions. Basinski led the squad with 12 digs, marking her season high, while Tsironis picked up a career-high six block assists. Taya Haffner continues to be among the top setters in the NCAA, picking up 39 assists in just three frames.
Missouri State (13-6, 4-3 MVC) was led by Azyah Green, who had 8 kills while Amelia Flynn led all players with 13 digs.
Set 1 – UE 25, Missouri State 21
Missouri State scored four of the opening six points of the night before Evansville got rolling to take a 7-6 lead. With the Aces up by a tally of 11-10, Alondra Vazquez helped UE add to its lead, recording a pair of service aces in a 5-0 stretch that gave UE a 16-10 lead. The Bears made it interesting down the stretch, cutting the deficit to 23-20 before Melanie Feliciano had the clinching kill in a 25-21 win.
Set 2 – UE 25, Missouri State 19
The Bears once again had some success early on, opening the set with a 9-6 advantage thanks to a Maddy Bushnell kill. It was the serving for the Purple Aces that once again helped them jump in front. This time it was an ace from Laura Ruiz that was part of a 7-1 run that gave UE a 13-10 lead. Missouri State stayed within striking distance, trailing by just a pair (18-16) before Evansville pulled away late. Three kills by both Giulia Cardona and Vazquez constituted the Aces final six points as they won by a final of 25-19 to grab a 2-0 lead.
Set 3 – UE 25, Missouri State 15
It was all Aces in the third set. After falling behind by a 2-0 score, Evansville reeled off eight points in a row and never looked back. Once again, it was thew serving of Vazquez that anchored the run. Cardona added three more kills while Feliciano added a pair. The run was capped off by Vazquez’ third ace of the match. MSU got as close as three points, including a 13-10 score, but Evansville responded with a 4-0 run to go up 17-10. From there, the Aces cruised to a 25-15 victory and a 3-0 match win.
Next up for UE is a weekend trek through Iowa. The Aces take on UNI on Friday evening before traveling to Drake on Saturday.