Volleyball loses two on the road

By Gus Bode

Saluki volleyball fell to seventh place in the Missouri Valley Conference Friday and Saturday as they dropped both games of a weekend set on the road against Creighton and Drake.

SIU (9-11, 3-8 MVC) entered the weekend tied for sixth place with Drake (9-16, 5-6 MVC), but a late rally wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs defeated the Salukis 3-2 Saturday. With a loss against Creighton (13-10, 8-3 MVC) Friday, SIU now sits two games behind Drake for the sixth and final spot in the MVC tournament.

“Either night, it wasn’t like the worse team lost. We played very good volleyball,” head coach Brenda Winkeler said. “We know we’re capable of playing it. It just came down to, in both matches, making untimely errors.”


SIU went down 2-0 against Drake Saturday but battled back with a .357 percentage in a third-set victory.

“Everybody knew it was a big game, so I thought we came out playing a little tight. We weren’t playing that well,” Winkeler said. “We made some minor adjustments, kind of gave them a little confidence coming out of the locker room.”

SIU pushed the game to a fifth set, but Drake won the game on a 5-1 run.

Junior middle blocker Alysia Mayes, who was battling through a sore back, had 15 kills while committing only one error. Her .379 hit percentage is the best in the MVC.

“She played extremely hard. By the end of (Saturday’s) match, she was holding (her back),” Winkeler said. “Two nights in a row of just physical play, I couldn’t ask anymore of her.”

SIU had a 2-1 set lead against Creighton, but the wheels fell off in the fourth set.

Junior outside hitter Laura Thole got a kill off a set by Rachael Brown to make the score 12-9 Creighton in the fourth set. The next Saluki kill was recorded by sophomore Elly Braaten to the score 22-12.


“It was a little bit of everything, but Creighton’s (Megan Bober) is just an outstanding player, and she really took over offensively,” Winkeler said. “She did a great job of just tipping all over and making us guess on defense.”

Despite hitting -.031 in the fourth set, Winkeler said it was the first set that ultimately decided the match. Creighton hit .083, but SIU couldn’t do any better with a mark of .077, and Creighton took the set 25-22.

“That was not a great volleyball set. We win that first set, and things may have been different,” Winkeler said. “That’s what we need to concentrate on this is week, coming out a little sharper. It seems like we come out like that, out of warm-ups, and that should be something we can control.”

SIU rallied in the fifth set to make the score 13-12, but Creighton pulled away for the victory.

“We were in it, and then we just made some untimely errors,” Winkeler said. “Our blocking and defense didn’t come through.”

The lefties proved to be trouble for SIU as Creighton’s Bober recorded a triple-double Friday with 19 kills, 28 assists and 11 digs. Drake’s Bentley Mancini had a career-high 18 kills against the Salukis.

Assistant coach Tammi Fries is left-handed and worked with the team to prepare it for the different look a lefty attacker gives. She said the team looked as if it would be able to adjust.

“It’s a different block set up. Left side blockers, in general, aren’t trained to block as much,” Winkeler said. “We had some breakdowns there.”

Thole recorded her ninth and 10th double-doubles of the year against Creighton and Drake. She had 38 kills and 24 digs during the two games after moving from the right side to the left.

“She’s a very versatile hitter, so she can hit a lot of different (angles),” Brown said.

Freshman middle blocker Sarah James stepped up to fill the void left by the injured Emily Less. James had 20 kills and hit for .277 percentage throughout the weekend.

“Everyday at practice, she just works, learns and improves,” Winkeler said. “She’s fun to watch, she’s fun to coach, and it’s great to see her get the numbers.”

The Salukis will take a five-game losing streak on the road to Evansville (12-14, 2-9 MVC) Friday.