Redhawks hope to continue a winning season
For the first time in 10 years the Southeast Missouri State University volleyball team was able to defeat a Big Ten Conference opponent.
The team beat Iowa in five games on its way to winning the Hawkeye Challenge on Aug. 25.
"It was a great win for us," junior middle hitter Emily Coon said. "I mean beating a Big Ten school is always an awesome thing for us, and it's been 10 years since we've done it. It's a great uplifting for all of our spirits, and it's really positive coming into our next tournament up in Milwaukee. The [conference] season is just right around the corner, so it's really great for all of us."
The Redhawks have a record of 4-3. They went 1-2 In the Milwaukee Invitational over the weekend.
"Across the board we were just pretty consistent, and last year was pretty much roller coasters, so consistency is a huge thing," junior setter Julie Shives said about the Hawkeye Challenge.
Coach Julie Folliard was excited with the way the team started the season and said that the players were able to get their nerves out of the way for the rest of the year.
Southeast returns 11 players from last year's team, including Coon and Shives, who were named preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference.
Coon was named the most valuable player of the Hawkeye Challenge.
Shives and junior outside hitter Colleen Yarber were named to the all-tournament team.
"We have a lot of experienced players on the team, juniors and seniors who have played in almost every game that they've been a player here so that definitely helps us, and it'll just prepare us for the conference once it starts," Folliard said.
The Redhawks' first home game is Sept. 25.
The team will have played 16 games on the road to start the season. The team's first OVC game is Sept. 21 against Eastern Illinois.
"It's actually going to help us a lot I think," Shives said. "Last year most of our wins were at home and so if we start out and we're winning on the road, it's going to be easier winning at home. "
Southeast had a home record of 7-3 and an away record of 4-11 last year.
The Redhawks were picked third in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll, which is voted on by OVC coaches and sports information directors.
Southeast participated in the OVC Tournament last year. It was the first time since 2008 the team qualified for the tournament. The Redhawks beat Eastern Kentucky but lost to eventual champion Morehead State in the tournament.
"We have improved a lot. We've been working in the gym constantly just trying to get better," Coon said. "We took fourth last season and now we've been ranked third in preseason polls, and that is not good enough for us. We definitely want to be first."
Southeast's next game will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday against the University of South Florida in the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic at St. Louis University.
"It's going to be really rough," Coon said. "We have a lot of games, a lot of traveling, but I think we're ready for it. We're definitely excited for how the season has started so far, and we're going to keep proving to people that we're ready to take the championship. We're ready to be OVC champs."