CARBONDALE — Kolby Meeks, Andrea Estrada and Abby Barrow all had two kills in the fifth set to help SIU's volleyball team rally for its first victory of the season Tuesday night.
The Salukis trailed Southeast Missouri State 4-0 in the race to 15 in the fifth, but tied it up at seven before pulling away for a 20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17, 15-13 win at SIU Arena.
"We worked so hard to get to a fifth set, so, we wanted to close it out and get that win," said Barrow, who had a team-high 16 kills on 35 attacks.
Freshman Maggie Nedoma had 13 kills and Meeks and Nellie Fredriksson added 10 for the Salukis (1-7). Patience Brown had nine kills and Andrea Estrada had eight to keep the Redhawks (5-6) guessing on defense.
"With the way Maggie was attacking, with the way Abby was attacking, with the way both of our middles, Patience and Kolby were attacking, they weren't able to key on one hitter, and that was something that was really important," SIU coach Kari Thompson said. "If we were in system, they had one blocker on each of our hitters, and we knew we could go score on those ones, so, that's making sure we're not one-dimensional."
Down 2-1, SIU jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the fourth before closing out the set 25-17. The Salukis appeared to be out of runs when they went down 4-0 in the fifth, but scored the last three points to scratch out their first five-set win of the season.
Northern Arizona and Murray State topped SIU in five sets earlier this season.
Southeast Missouri State, 2-2 in five-set matches before Tuesday night, took a 13-12 lead off Mikayla Kuhlmann's match-high 20th kill from the left side. SIU found Meeks in the middle for an easy point to tie it and earned match point off Barrow's kill on the left side.
Kuhlmann came up short on the left side to end it, giving SIU a sigh of relief 18 days in the making. The Salukis were swept by Western Kentucky in their opener Aug. 25 and were in danger of going to a stiff Notre Dame Shamrock Invitational this weekend 0-8.
"I was telling people it felt like we just won a championship, because that's how much it meant to us," Barrow said. "We've been working so hard, and things just haven't gone our way. They haven't clicked when they've needed to, so, honestly, it's a relief. It gives us a lot of confidence as a team because we know we're good."
They'll get to prove it in South Bend, Indiana, when they're scheduled to face Central Michigan, the host Fighting Irish and Michigan State. SIU then opens Missouri Valley Conference play at Bradley Sept. 22.
Thompson, in her first season at SIU, was happy to get the monkey off her back, for herself, and her team.
"It's nice to get that one, so they can see that success, and see what they've been working on pays off," she said. "It's been a tough preseason schedule, and we knew there weren't going to be any easy ones, but, I think, to get that win now, and have that belief that, yes, we can put it together."