Salukis breeze past MVC rivals

By Matt Ferguson

The wind and chance of rain wasn’t enough to falter the Salukis as they nearly went undefeated against Missouri Valley Conference opponents Illinois State and Bradley 6-1 and 7-0 respectively.

The two weekend wins leave the team with 13-3 overall record and 3-0 against MVC opponents this season. The only matches lost over the two-game homestand were on Saturday against Illinois State, as nearly 30 mph winds affected the athletes’ play.

With the wind in mind, Saturday’s match was moved from a 1 p.m. start to 10:30 a.m. Junior Korey Love said playing in strong winds has an impact on the team’s performance.

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“It’s really hard playing in that kind of wind,” she said. “Once you set up a forehand or a backhand to hit the ball, a gust of wind will move the ball and you’ll have to re-setup for it.”

Despite the weather and the changed schedule, fans slowly trickled in on Fan Appreciation Day in Carbondale until they filled the bleachers to watch the girls play. They watched as the Salukis won seven of their nine matches, including one 7-1, 7-6 (2-0) singles tiebreaker match by senior Melanie Delsart in the No. 1 spot.

The Dawgs took the doubles point with Delsart’s and senior Anastacia Simon’s 8-6 victory over the Redbird duo of junior Phyllis Tigges and freshman Kadi Ilves. Love and Junior Anita Lee also nabbed a doubles win when they bested junior Carolina Abello and junior Heather Nisbet in the No. 3 match.

The only Redbirds point came in their 6-2, 6-0 win against Saluki senior Jennifer Dien in the No. 4 singles match.

Coach Audra Nothwehr said she was happy to finally get a win against the Redbirds.

“I think this win was huge,” she said. “It goes back to last year when we played Illinois State for our last conference match. We went in there, and we overlooked them or something. I told them that this was revenge on last year, and we don’t want it to slip through their fingers like we did last year.”

Despite Sunday’s storm warning predictions, the Salukis chose to play outside and were rewarded with the sun and little wind. The team took advantage by sweeping the Braves in all seven matches, and SIU won all of their exhibition matches.

Sophomore Gisela Cairo Basa extended her win streak to 11 with her 6-2, 6-2 win in the No. 6 spot Sunday. Delsart had her opponent junior Adele Kenke rolling in the deep as she won her No. 1 singles match 6-1, 6-0.

Considering the Salukis’ opponents, Delsart said it was important to play well against the team’s rivals.

“This is conference. this is what matters,” she said. “Every ball counts and we were both trying to be more aggressive than before. (Anna) was hitting all her volleys and putting them away. When she is on, then I am on.”

Delsart’s two singles wins makes three-consecutive victories. Her two doubles wins end a three-match losing streak. She ranks No. 19 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association central region.

The Salukis look to stay undefeated at home this season as they host St. Louis at 3 p.m. today at University Courts.

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