Volleyball wraps Senior Weekend with two victories at home
It was a celebration in Houck Field House this past weekend for the volleyball team. The Redhawks claimed their second four-set victory over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville this season Nov. 2, 25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 31-29. The team closed its regular-season home schedule with a win the following day, defeatingEastern Illinois University 25-21, 26-28, 25-16, 25-13.
The seniors were honored with flowers and plaques in a ceremony before Saturday’s match. All four seniors — setter Keegan Fornoff, rightside hitter Haley Bilbruck, outside hitter Madeline Grimm and rightside hitter Madara Bajare — were in the starting lineup.
“Two of them [Fornoff and Grimm] have been here all four years,” Southeast coach Julie Yankus said. “Haley and Madara have also made a huge impact in our program since they’ve been here. [Those four women] have been amazing representatives of our programs. They have been amazing students, people that always have gone above and beyond out in the community, and they are just always willing to do whatever they could in different roles.”
Both Bajare and Bilbruck have been top players for the Redhawks. Coming into the weekend, Bilbruck had 206 kills and added five more against SIUE and 12 against EIU.
Bajare closed off the weekend with 22 kills — nine against SIUE and 13 against EIU.
Yankus said although the team is losing two strong offensive players, she already sees some younger players who can fill that void in freshman Colby Greene and junior Annie Wehrheim.
The Redhawks started off strong in the first two sets against the Cougars, with a noticeable difference in the lineup -- outside hitter Laney Malloy wore the libero jersey, moving from primarily offense to defense. She recorded 13 digs, two assists, and one ace.
“Our opponents have really scouted the heck out of Laney as an outside hitter,” Yankus said. “She just wasn’t able to terminate as much on the outside, and we’ve got a lot of depth in that outside position. So we made the switch, and we were able to keep her on the floor the whole time.”
Wehrheim led the team with 18 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Maggie Adams had five blocks, while sophomore defensive specialist Ally Dion had a season-high of five aces.
Against EIU, freshman setter Claire Ochs also hit a major milestone by reaching 1,000 assists for the season during the second set. She ended the weekend with a current season total of 1,047 assists. That would go on record as the fourth most assists in a season for the Redhawks since 2008. Julie Shives, who played from 2010 to 2013, holds the other top five spots, and is the only other player to record more than 1,000 assists in a season.
“Ironically, when we started the season, after our first weekend, Shives’ mom reached out to me saying she was watching and she’s like ‘I think you have a setter who will break a lot of Julie’s records,’” Yankus said.
Southeast had the advantage in kills with 52 to SIUE’s 44.
All 16 Southeast match wins this season came after winning the first set.
Wehrheim again was the top offensive player, recording 22 kills on 50 total attacks. Bajare was right behind her with 13 kills and a team-high .393 hitting percentage.
Defensively, the Redhawks out-blocked the Panthers nine to four. Dion and Bilbruck led the way for the Redhawks with 12 digs apiece.
Southeast is now 16-11 overall and 8-6 in the OVC. The team will travel to University of Tennessee at Martin on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and to Jacksonville State on Saturday, Nov. 10, to finish the regular season.