PEORIA, Ill. -- Sophomore Courtney Keefe (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) turned in season highs of 14 kills and 18 digs, but the Southern Illinois duo of Laura Thole (22 kills) and Alysia Mayes (20 kills) helped power the Salukis to a five set victory against the Braves Friday at Renaissance Coliseum. Set scores in favor of SIU were 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 21-25, 15-9.
Keefe collected a team and season high 14 kills in addition to finishing one dig short of matching her career-best total with 18 digs in the five-set loss. She was one of four BU players to reach double figures in kills, with sophomore Allie Falter (Lincoln, Neb./Pius X) adding a career-best 12 kills.
Bradley (6-13 overall, 0-8 MVC) got off to a hot start, hitting .500 in the first set and ran away with a 25-18 opening set victory. Falter and senior Madelyn Ervin (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy) each tallied four kills on five swings to lead the Braves in the opening-set win.
Southern Illinois (16-3 overall, 6-2 MVC) answered with a .424 attack percentage in the second set and pulled even in the match with a 25-17 victory. Taylor Pippen led the Saluki offensive attack in the second set, finding the floor with five kills on just six attack attempts.
The third set featured seven lead changes and 13 ties before SIU took control late. Bradley took a 22-21 lead on a Keefe solo block, but Thole answered with one of her match-high 22 kills and a pair of BU attack errors to follow put the Salukis in front 24-22. Mayes closed out a 25-23 Southern Illinois win with her sixth kill of the set.
The Braves led through most of the fourth set and seized momentum midway through the frame. Holding a 15-14 lead, Keefe chased back-to-back SIU errors with a kill to put BU in front 18-14. The Braves stretched the advantage to as many as six points (24-18) down the stretch on an Ervin kill and forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-21 victory.
Errors proved costly for Bradley late in the fifth set with Southern Illinois scoring the final seven points of the match to pull out the deciding set 15-9. The Braves led 9-8 on a block by Falter and junior Alise Tupuritis (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West), before Pippen pulled SIU even at 9-9 with a kill. Thole took over down the stretch, tallying three kills and a block assist to help highlight the 7-0 Saluki run to finish the match.
Joining Keefe and Falter in double figures in kills for Bradley were Tupuritis (11 kills) and junior Amy Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan), who added 10 kills. Falter hit .435 in the match to help highlight Bradley's offensive efforts, while junior Lauren Zerante (Elmhurst, Ill./York) added a team-best 20 digs.
Thole and Mayes combined for 42 of SIU's 66 kills on the night. Mayes added eight block assists and Thole finished with a double-double, chipping in with 14 digs. Bailey Yeager notched a match-high 29 digs for the Salukis.
Bradley continues a season-long, four-match home stand Saturday with a 4 p.m. match against Evansville at Renaissance Coliseum.