Southeast wins five-set thriller, advances to championship match of OVC volleyball tournament

Southeast Missouri State senior outside hitter Mikayla Kuhlmann

The Southeast Missouri State volleyball team won a dramatic five-set match over the third-seeded Racers on Friday to advance to Saturday’s championship match of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in Jacksonville, Alabama.

The second-seeded Redhawks prevailed 25-20, 14-25, 25-22, 20-25, 21-19.

Southeast improved to 22-10 in advancing to the championship match for the first time since 2006. The Redhawks will face No. 4 seed Morehead State (23-8) at 6 p.m. Saturday for the title. The Eagles upset top-seeded Jacksonville State 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 in the other semifinal.

In the fifth set, Southeast faced match point when Murray State went ahead 17-16 on a kill by Rachel Giustino, but the Redhawks pulled even on an attack error by the Racers. It was the only match point the Redhawks faced. With the score tied 19-19, Claire Ochs put down a kill for the Redhawks’ seventh match point of the set. Emily Bogetto finally sent Southeast into the championship match with her only kill of the day off a set by Ochs, who finished with 43 assists. Ochs also had 13 digs and six kills.

“I give so much credit to our passers for this win tonight,” Yankus said in a press release. “Tara Beilsmith, Ally Dion, Laney Malloy, and Emily Boggetto did a great job of getting us in system so we could run our offense. They did an excellent job of passing against a team who has very aggressive servers.”

Mikayla Kuhlmann led the way for the Redhawks with 14 kills, while Malloy finished with 13 kills, 12 digs and five blocks. Maggie Adams posted nine kills and nine blocks for Southeast, while Annie Wehrheim added eight kills and four blocks.

For the match, Southeast out-blocked the Racers 17-6.

“We also did an excellent job blocking,” Yankus said. “Our middles worked so hard to close as many blocks as they could and we had a lot of positive touches in addition to 17-kill blocks.”

Beilsmith notched 28 digs to pace the Redhawks defensively.

During the regular season, Southeast swept Morehead State 25-10, 27-25, 25-21 on Oct. 18 at Houck Field House.

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