The exciting ride the SIU volleyball team had been on the past few weeks was cut short with a loss to Bradley University Saturday.
The Salukis were on a four-game
winning streak going into Friday’s match at Loyola University, where they won in four sets, but were swept by the Braves on Saturday.
Friday’s match was the first time SIU played in conference newcomer Loyola’s gym, and it was a match to remember.
The first set was controlled by the
Salukis as they won 25-20, but the second set had 11 ties and five lead changes. SIU was finally able to fight and get the 25-18 set win. In the third set, the team had its lowest sideout percentage of the match at 51 percent and the Ramblers had their highest at 64 percent. Loyola took the third aset 25-20 to force a fourth set.
The Salukis fought hard in the fourth, came away with the set victory 25-20 and the match win three sets to one.
After Friday’s match, the winning streak reached five games, the longest of the season for the Salukis.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” she said. “I just go in there and do what I have to do for the team.”
Fellow senior outside hitter Elly Braaten finished the win against the Ramblers with 14 kills.
However, Saturday was a different story for the Salukis. It was the first time they had been swept since falling to Wichita State University Oct. 4.
SIU fell in a close first set 25-23. The hitting percentage for the Salukis in the second set was a mere 5 percent with a sideout percentage of 54 percent. The Braves took the second set 25-21 and Bradley had its highest sideout percentage in the third set which helped finished off the Salukis 25-19 for the sweep.
Only two SIU players finished the match with double-digit kills. Whitehead and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Pippen each finished with 10.
Pippen said her team could not
get things going in the match against Bradley.
“The past five matches we gelled together and tonight we weren’t on the same page,” Pippen said.
Ingram said there is one key question when going into a tough game.
“How is your team going to prepare for battle,” Ingram said. “Bradley prepared better than we did.”
After the weekend’s matches, the Salukis are in fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings at 7-4. They
have seven matches left in the season and three of those are against teams higher in standings.
Braaten said the MVC can still be won by any team.
“The good thing about the conference is anybody can beat anybody depending on who shows up,” Braaten said.
The Salukis face off against Missouri State University on Friday at Davies Gym. The No.1 team in the conference, Wichita State University, comes to Carbondale Saturday.
Pippen said there is still a lot of volleyball to be played this season, and the Salukis can still finish the season on top.
“We just have to keep our heads high and still know that we can win the conference as long we’re playing well together and playing how we know we can,” Pippen said.
Tyler Dixon can be reached at email@example.com or 536-3311 ext. 269.
Coach Justin Ingram said his team was clicking during the winning streak.
“I think there were some things systematically that have been more efficient within those five matches,” Ingram said.
Senior outside hitter Jessica Whitehead continued her stellar senior season with