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UE volleyball wins fifth straight conference match

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Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 11:38 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Trailing by a score of 10-5 in the fifth set, the University of Evansville volleyball team scored 10 of the final 12 points to clinch its fifth Missouri Valley Conference win in a row, defeating Drake by a 3-2 final on Saturday at the Knapp Center.

It marks the first time since joining the MVC in 1994 that the program has won five league matches in a row. Evansville (15-4, 5-3 MVC) won the opening two sets over the Bulldogs (8-8, 3-5 MVC), but Drake did not give up, fighting back to take the third and fourth sets before holding a 5-point lead in the fifth. Making the difference was Cecilia Thon, who had two service aces in the final stretch to clinch the win.

“We knew that we were going to play a good Drake team tonight, even though we were up 2-0, we knew they were no going to quit,” Purple Aces head coach Fernando Morales exclaimed. “When I called the timeout in the fifth set down 10-5, I told the girls that we have three of our best servers coming up and if we sideout 10-6, we are going to win this match.”

“They did a great job of trusting each other. Cecilia and Laura (Ruiz) were huge all weekend long.”

Thon finished the night with three of the Aces nine service aces while Alondra Vazquez also finished with three. Blakeley Freeman recorded a pair along with 13 digs. Giulia Cardona and Vazquez each recorded 21 kills with Melanie Feliciano totaling 16. Taya Haffner had a career night, posting her highest assist and dig totals. Haffner’s 50 helpers bested her previous mark of 46 while her 21 digs was seven better than her career mark. Haley Bush and Mariana Rodrigues led the Bulldogs with 15 and 14 kills, respectively.

Set One – UE 25, Drake 19

Playing its second road match in two nights, the Aces came out swinging, jumping out to an early 11-6 advantage. Taya Haffner picked up a kill to help in building the advantage. UE continued to hold a 5-point edge as a Feliciano kill made it a 16-11 game. The Bulldogs made their first run, using a pair of Taylor Oberpriller kills to get within just one at 19-18. Following a timeout, the Aces countered. Vazquez pushed the lead back to a pair and after a Drake point, Evansville scored the final five points to take a 25-19 decision. Cardona had consecutive kills during the run.

Set Two – UE 25, Drake 22

A competitive second set featured 13 ties including seven leading to a 9-9 score. Drake took advantage of a Kylee Macke ace to score four in a row and grab their largest lead of the night to that point. Evansville wasted little time in countering, outscoring Drake by a 6-1 margin to go up 15-14. Kate Tsironis picked up the kill that put the Aces on top. The Bulldogs battled back to take a 16-15 lead and the teams continued to swap the advantage, but with the score knotted at 22-22, it was the Aces who would grab the win. Vazquez picked up back-to-back kills before a bad set by Drake finished off the 25-22 win to give the Aces a 2-0 lead.

Set Three – Drake 25, UE 21

Competition was fierce in the third set with 13 more tie scores. With the contest tied at 13-13, the Bulldogs scored three in a row to take the lead for good. Evansville got back within one at 18-17 on an attack error by the Bulldogs, but could not get the tying point, falling by a score of 25-21.

Set Four – Drake 25, UE 20

Looking to seal the victory, UE had the early momentum, jumping out to a 9-6 advantage. Blakeley Freeman had an ace before Cardona picked up a kill to cement the early lead. The Bulldogs stormed back, going on an 11-2 run to take a commanding 17-11 edge. The deficit for UE proved to be too much to overcome as the Bulldogs forced a decisive 5th set with a 25-20 win.

Set Five – UE 15, Drake 12

With the momentum on their side, the Bulldogs looked to be in control, taking a 10-5 lead. Coach Morales called a timeout to settle things down and the strategy paid dividends. Melanie Feliciano got it started with a kill before a Bulldog error made it a 10-7 game. Drake scored out of a timeout to go back up by four before Feliciano struck again with another kill. On the next point, Alondra Vazquez added another kill to her total to make it an 11-9 game before Cecilia Thon came through with an ace. Trialing by just one, it was Vazquez who picked up the tying score with a kill to make it 11-11.

A Drake error gave UE a 12-11 lead before another Thon kill pushed the lead to two. The Bulldogs got back within one before Vazquez moved over the 20-kill mark, posting UE’s final two points in a 15-12 win.

Just one match is on the docket next week with the Aces hosting Indiana State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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