Seniors take final bow at Davies

By Gus Bode

Seniors on the SIU volleyball team want to end their season on a high note, and that goes beyond this weekend’s final home matches.

Seniors Kristie Berwanger, Erika Bartruff, Kristy Elswick and Brooklyn Robbins will play at Davies Gymnasium for the final time this weekend as the team closes out the home portion of it schedule. Not only are the Salukis looking to close their home schedule in style, they are still battling to get into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the second season in a row.

The Salukis play arch-rival Creighton Friday, followed by a Saturday match against Drake. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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SIU currently holds a 5-9 record in the Missouri Valley Conference and a half-game behind Illinois State for the final spot in the MVC Tournament. As the team’s opportunities continue to dwindle, picking up wins this weekend would help its postseason chances.

Berwanger, who was on the 2007 MVC All-Tournament team, said she wants to end her career at Davies on top.

‘This is my home gym; it’s my gym,’ Berwanger said. ‘The last time I play here I want it to be a memorable one. I want to end a long career on a positive note.’

Robbins said the weekend will be bittersweet as it will be the last time she plays in Davies but is excited for her family to make the trip to Carbondale to watch her.

‘I’m excited to have them come here and watch me play in my last game here at Davies,’ Robbins said. ‘I’m nervous. I’m ready to play, but it will be emotional.’

The Salukis dropped a four-set match with the Blue Jays in their first match of the season Oct. 18. After going into halftime tied 1-1, the Salukis lost two close sets 25-22 to leave Omaha, Neb., with a loss.

SIU coach Brenda Winkeler said beating Creighton would be a huge boost to the Salukis’ chances of making the postseason – if two teams are tied at the end of the regular season, the team with the better conference ranking will make the postseason.

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‘With Creighton being in third place, it would really help us if we were to beat them,’ Winkeler said. ‘This is a very important weekend. They’re all important; we’re down to four.’

But the Salukis cannot only focus on Creighton.

Despite sitting in eighth place in the MVC with a 3-11 conference record, Drake played SIU closely in its first match Oct. 17 – a five set win by SIU.

Winkeler said Drake is a scrappy team that will not quit until the match is over.

‘If you look, they’ve played a lot of people close, including us,’ she said. ‘At the end of the year, they have absolutely nothing to lose, so they’ll be playing all out to try and beat us.’

Winkeler said senior night will be emotional and admitted it will be hard to watch her players compete at Davies for the final time.

‘Brooklyn Robbins has only been here for two years, but I feel like I’ve coached her forever,’ she said. ‘Kristy Elswick is going out holding a lot of records, and we’re going to miss Kristie Berwanger.’

Stile Smith can be reached at

536-3311 ext. 282 or [email protected]

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