Volleyball earns first MVC win over Southern Illinois

After dropping the first two sets against Southern Illinois Saturday, the volleyball team rallied back for a five-set victory and its first conference win of the season.

“We settled down, we battled, and we were able to show what we are capable of,” coach Jenny Maurer said.

Sophomore Alise Tupuritis led the team with a career-high 18 kills, and the Braves recorded a season-best 13 blocks to beat the Salukis 22-25, 16-25, 25-20, 25-22 and 15-12 to improve to 7-4 on the season.

“We worked really hard to get that first conference win this season, and we definitely fought back in that match,” Tupuritis said. “I feel like it’s a well-deserved win.”

Junior Madelyn Ervin had 11 kills, senior Rachelle Dejean led the team with 11 digs, and freshman Madison Kamp set a career-high with 54 assists to help give Bradley its first win against Southern Illinois since 2005.

“No matter what we do, confidence is key,” Tupuritis said. “We can win a lot of conference games.”

In the final three sets, the Braves tallied a .292 percent attack percentage, an upgrade over the .188 percent attack percentage in the first two.

Another important factor in the Braves comeback was Bradley’s sideout percentage. In the first two sets, Bradley forced the Salukis to a sideout 47 percent of the time compared to 70 percent in the final three sets.

“You are feeling pretty good about yourself when you are around 70 to 75 percent,” Maurer said. “Not letting teams get confident by getting runs on you [shows] how effective you are.”

Last Friday, Bradley fell in its Missouri Valley Conference opener to Evansville in three straight sets, 25-21, 25-18 and 25-17.

“We just didn’t play our game,” Maurer said. “We didn’t play with confidence, it was more in our heads than anything else.”

Sophomore Amy Angelos led the team with nine kills followed by Tupuritis with eight. Kamp paced the Braves with 12 digs.

Bradley was held to a .134 attack percentage, while the Purple Aces finished with a .288 attack percentage.

Bradley heads to Indiana State for a match tonight at 6 p.m., and will head to Illinois State for a 2 p.m. match Sunday. The Braves return back to Peoria, Sept. 30 against Missouri State at 7 p.m. in the arena.