Coming off two conference losses, the volleyball team has practiced this week for the next two Missouri Valley Conference matches.
The Salukis will start weekend play against Creighton at 7 p.m. in Davies Gymnasium for Pack the House night. Creighton (12-2, 3-0 MVC) beat Wichita State in four sets the weekend before Wichita beat SIU (11-3, 2-2) in three.
Coach Justin Ingram said Creighton plays similar to SIU.
“They run a system that is similar to ours,” he said. “I expect it to be a tough match.”
The Bluejays beat the Salukis in four and five sets last season.
Senior Bailey Yeager said the teams’ similarities could be an advantage.
“They run similar offense to us, so hopefully we will be able to stop them,” she said.
Creighton sophomore Leah McNary leads the team with 3.19 kills per set, and sophomore Kelli Browning leads the nation in blocks. Browning had 15 solo blocks against the University of Tulsa.
SIU was on an 11-match win streak before it lost to Missouri State Sept. 21. Senior outside hitter Laura Thole said the team needs to be focused at all times to compete at the level of other top MVC teams such as Wichita and Creighton.
“To be at the top half of the conference you need to play your best every point … there are no points off,” she said.
Yeager said the team has worked to improve its communication.
“We had a few breakdowns in communication this past weekend, so we have made that a focus on our practices,” she said. “In every drill, talk more about who is going to get what ball.”
The team will also play Drake (1-12, 0-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Davies Gymnasium. Drake senior outside hitter Bentley Mancini leads the team with 2.34 kills per set.
Three SIU hitters rank in the top 10 of the MVC in kills. Junior Jessica Whitehead is fourth with 3.85 per set; senior Alysia Mayes is sixth with 3.69, and Thole is ninth with 3.62.
Yeager leads the conference with 5.69 digs per set, and sophomore Amy Drabant is third in assists with 11.92 per set.