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Volleyball wins conference opener

Volleyball wins conference opener

The UIS volleyball team hosted the Maryville University Saints at TRAC for their Great Lakes Valley Conference opener, Saturday. After a tough preseason for the Prairie Stars, they were looking for a win to start their conference play. The Prairie Stars kept the first two sets close, winning only by two in each (28-26, 29-27) but took the game in the third set dominating the Saints 25-18.

In the first set, the Prairie Stars got off to an early 7-2 lead, forcing Maryville to take a time out. The Saints then rallied together and went on an 11-6 run to tie the game at 13-13. Neither the Prairie Stars nor the Saints could get more than a one point lead over the other resulting in 15 tied scores with eight lead changes. It wasn’t until a block from junior Haley Maxwell and senior Kellee Mahaffay ended the first set giving the Stars a 1-0 lead.

The Saints served first in the second set, scoring only one point before UIS took the ball back. The Stars went on a short run forcing the Saints to call a time out. The Saints then stopped the Prairie Stars’ run taking the ball back for themselves. The Stars had a crushing 14-6 lead in the set but the Saints were not about to go down without a fight. They fought their way back to take the lead at 22-23, but could not hold on to it as the Prairie Stars took it back and won the set 29-27.

The Prairie Stars had a 2-0 lead going into half time over the Saints.

In the final set, the two teams went back and forth tying the game at 10 all, before the Saints took the lead. However, back to back errors by the Saints allowed the Prairie Stars to come back and take the lead. The Prairie Stars went on an 11-5 run to end the game and sweep the Saints 3-0 in their conference opener.

Senior Sara Baker recorded a match high of 19 kills and a hitting percentage of .341. Junior JoAnna Hoffman recorded a double-double with 38 assists and 12 digs, while Mahaffay and freshman Ashley Beaton each had seven kills of their own.

The Prairie Stars had 50 kills with 24 errors on 131 attempts, while Maryville recorded 37 kills with 22 errors on 126 attempts for a .119 hitting percentage. Demi Miniaci had a team-high with eight kills for the Saints.

“I am so proud of the girls,” said head coach Noelle Rooke. “I think we finished a lot stronger than how we started.” According to Rooke, this is the first time that the program has started off conference play 1-0. The volleyball team will strive to play better and to keep this momentum going. Rooke had “no doubt” that the outcome of the game would be in UIS’ favor.

The Prairie Stars are back in action this Friday as they travel to Kirksville, MO to take on the Truman State Bulldogs for their next GLVC conference match.

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