Saluki volleyball wins Stetson Invitational, still undefeated

By Gus Bode

History didn’t repeat itself for the SIU volleyball team.

The Salukis started last season 4-0, but lost their fifth game en route to a 9-1 start. This year, SIUC has kept the perfection going a little longer as it picked up three victories during the weekend to win the Stetson Invitational in Deland, Fla., improving its record to 7-0.

‘It really helps that we had a similar start to last season,’ head coach Brenda Winkeler said. ‘We want to learn how to take this momentum and apply it to conference play. This year I think we will be able to do that.’


SIUC defeated host Stetson University in straight sets (25-21, 25-17, 25-12) Friday.

Despite the score of the match, Winkeler said she did not think the team played to its potential. She said the passing was not as tight as she wanted and the ball control was weak. SIUC had seven receiving errors in the match.

The Salukis started play on Saturday against the eight-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions Florida A&M. SIUC fell down two sets, but rallied back to defeat the Lady Rattlers in five games (20-25, 21-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-12).

Freshman setter Rachael Brown recorded her second double-double of the season in the match with 12 digs and 46 assists. Senior middle blocker Chandra Roberson hit for a match-high .438 percent.

‘It’s a great feeling beating a team that is so good and has been in the NCAA (tournament),’ Roberson said. ‘They have seen competition we haven’t. I feel like we’re coming along and getting better than we have in past years. I am really excited to see what we can do.’

Winkeler said it showed the character of the team to be able to come back and win the match in five sets.

The final match of the tournament was a rematch against Stetson University. Errors were not an issue this time as SIU beat Stetson again in straight sets (25-13, 25-14, 25-16). The Salukis did not allow Stetson to score more than 16 points in a single game.


In the match, junior outside hitter Jennifer Berwanger got her third double-double of the weekend. Berwanger has five double-doubles through seven games this season and was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

Berwanger and Brown were named to an all-tournament team for a second time this season while Roberson earned the honor for the first time.

‘Jen (Berwanger) is like our miracle player,’ said freshman middle blocker Alysia Mayes. ‘She always plays well and is pretty much our go-to player on any given play.’

SIU plays its first home match at 7 p.m. Friday against University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Saluki Invitational.