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Volleyball splits with Evansville and Southern Illinois: Braves remain in sixth place in the MVC with seven matches left

With a rowdy crowd on hand Saturday night, the volleyball team redeemed itself from Friday night’s five set loss to Evansville (25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 21-25, 13-15) with a convincing three set sweep of Southern Illinois (25-23, 25-23, 25-19) to keep its postseason hopes alive.
On Friday night, the Braves lost senior Amy Angelos to an ankle injury. Coach Jenny Maurer said that X-rays were negative, and it is not a season-ending injury.
With one of their co-captains down and coming off a heartbreaking five-set loss to Evansville, the Braves mixed up the starting lineup Saturday night against Southern Illinois, and it paid off.
Maurer said she knew that losing one of her captains was going to be tough on the team but she was confident the team would come out strong. “We talk a lot about adversity and being adaptable,” Maurer said. “We said, ‘hey this is where we are going to be tested’.”
Maurer compared her team’s play on Saturday night to that of the St. Louis Cardinals in how they deal with adversity.
“Whenever they [Cardinals] have a rough night from one of their starters, the next night one of the rookies or someone else steps in for them,” Maurer said. “So we asked ourselves, with Amy being gone, who will step up and fight?”
Senior Alise Tupuritis had a big weekend for the Braves as she led the team with 41 kills, and senior Lauren Zerante led the team with 44 digs.
Freshman Rachel Jones got the start in place of injured Angelos on Saturday night and delivered in a large way for the Braves, leading them in attack percentage and having some timely kills.
Jones said she knew she had to step up with Angelos being gone, and if the Braves wanted to win, she needed a big game.
“I just wanted to step up because I know [Angelos] means a lot to our team,” Jones said. “I wanted to prove to her that even if she’s out we can step up and play for her.”
The Braves currently sit in sixth place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 5-6 conference record and 11-9 overall record. The Braves need to finish in at least sixth place to make the conference tournament in November.
The Braves head back on the road for a three-game trip starting Friday against I-74 rival Illinois State at 7 p.m. The Braves then head to play Indiana State on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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