Lions split opening day matches at MSSU Crossover

Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern volleyball team picked up a four set win in its opener, but dropped a straight-set match to ninth ranked Central Missouri in the night cap in the opening day of the 2010 Missouri Southern Crossover. 

Southern (9-5, 1-3 MIAA) falls to 1-3 in league play as the match against Central Missouri was played as a conference match.   

The Lions took their first match of the day in four sets as Southern took care of Southwestern Oklahoma by the set scores of 25-19, 21-25, 25-19, and 25-17. 

Ashlee Russell had a season-high 20 kills, while hitting .417 and adding 10 digs for a double-double. Rachel Olinyk had 15 kills and hit .458, while Shakila Balkhi had 19 digs. Daphne Merrick had 21 assists and Elin Skei added 15 of her own. The Lions hit .202 as a team, but defensively had nine team blocks. 

The first set was all Lions as after an early 5-5 tie, Southern took the lead on a kill from Russell and led throughout. Southwestern opened up an early 10-5 lead in the second set, forcing a Southern timeout, but the Lions came back to as close as 16-14 after a Bulldog (5-11) attack error. Southern would get to within one (18-17 after another Southwestern attack error, but the Bulldogs pulled out the set with a 7-4 run. 

The final two sets were all Lions as Southern trailed just once. 

In the Lions second match of the day, Southern was overpowered by Central Missouri (13-3, 6-1 MIAA) and lost by the set scores of 16-25, 13-25 and 9-25. Russell led the Lions offensively with nine kills and a .471 attack average. 

There were two lead changes in the first set and one in the second, but the Jennies led throughout in the final set. 

The Lions will be back in action tomorrow with a match at 12:30 against Texas Woman's and another at 5:30 against Newman.