The Savage Storm took a rivalry-fueled, five set volleyball win over East Central on Thursday at Bloomer Sullivan Gym.
Several Storm players put up jaw-dropping numbers – not the least of which were Taylor Benner’s 31 digs – as Southeastern notched its second conference win and ended a nagging 14-game streak of losses.
“To beat East Central is always huge,” said Southeastern Volleyball Coach Jenn King. “We always play them well at home, but to have them show up aggressive was great. And the way we responded in the third and fifth sets is where we need to be going.”
Southeastern took a 25-18 win in set one before dropping the second 25-13. The Storm fell behind early in the third set before a heated battle favored them in a 25-23 win.
Another bad start led to a 25-12 win for the Tigers, forcing the short fifth set. Again, ECU took an early (and much more dangerous) 5-2 lead before Megan Kunkel and Emily Gentle sparked a rally and Southeastern took the game with a 15-11 final set advantage.
“It’s the emotional energy that takes us to that place. I just told them to go hard with that energy,” King said. As for the big numbers put up by Benner, Madelynne Cera (23 assists and 16 digs), and Megan Kunkel (14 kills and 19 digs), King chalked it up to the intensity of the ECU rivalry.
“It’s always like that, high kills and high digs all over the place,” she said. “To have ‘Bella’ (Benner) step up in that role is huge, and she was getting digs she had to work for. Megan showed maturity, she had no fear when she was swinging. And Maddie (Cera) started getting vocal on the court with the girls, and that doesn’t show up on the stat line.”
She also bragged on Emily Gentle, who had 17 kills and nine digs.
Southeastern (3-23 with a 2-9 GAC record) now moves ahead of Henderson State to stay alive in the hunt for a postseason spot. The Savage Storm can keep moving up with a win this Saturday at Northwestern Oklahoma (1-23, with 0-10 GAC record). The Tigers (9-19 overall) fall to 6-5 in the Great American Conference.