EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville middle blocker Kelsey Augustine unloaded a season-high 17 kills Tuesday but the Cougars dropped a 25-16, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22 decision to Missouri-Kansas City at the Vadalabene Center.
Augustine also hit a team-best .412 for the Cougars, which dropped to 2-8 overall.
"We challenged her after set one," said SIUE coach Leah Johnson. "She responded. It made a difference in the competitiveness of the play."
Fellow senior Hilary Trevino matched her career best in kills with 15.
"I thought her efficiency was what was the most commendable," Johnson said. "Now what we're asking from her is to repeat that performance night in and night out. That will change the course of our season."
The Kangaroos, now 6-5, got off to a strong start with 17 kills and just two errors in the opening set. Sydney Crimmins, who led Kansas City with 17 kills, got her team off to a strong start.
Johnson said the Cougars need a better start to matches.
"If we would have come out with urgency in set one, the match looks a lot different," she said.
Kansas City had as much as an 11-point lead in the opening set behind the serving of Jessica Hendin.
The Cougars fought back in set two to even up the match. SIUE recorded 17 kills in the set with seven coming from Augustine.
SIUE libero Chelsea Colclasure continued her strong play on defense. The Ohio Valley Conference's leader in digs tallied a season-best 29 digs Tuesday.
"I thought Chelsea was exceptional tonight. She was covering an excessive amount of court," said Johnson.
The Cougars and the Kangaroos battled back and forth over the next two sets. There were 21 ties and 12 lead changes in the second half of the game.
Johnson and the Cougars got a spark off the bench from setter Kaitlyn O'Reilly. She had eight assists in limited playing time during the fourth set.
"She played with a lot of assertiveness. It was nice to see that," said Johnson.
UMKC hit .258 for the match and outdueled SIUE in kills 58-54.
Next up for the Cougars is the second home tournament of the season. SIUE welcomes DePaul (9-0), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-13), and Georgia State (4-7) this weekend for the SIUE Cougar Invitational. The two-day tournament begins Friday at the Vadalabene Center.
"We're fired up to play again," Johnson said. "That's the character of this team. They're always looking forward and hungry for victory."