Salukis dive deep into conference play

By Gus Bode

From now on the only thing the SIU volleyball team will focus on is making the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

The Salukis will travel to Omaha, Neb., on Friday to take on Creighton (16-8. 10-3 MVC) and then to Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday for a matchup with Drake (7-17, 4-9 MVC).

The games will begin the last phase of the season for the Salukis, who are tied for sixth place in the MVC with Evansville.


In order to make the conference tournament, the Salukis (12-12, 4-8) must be among the top six teams in the conference.

“From here on out, every game counts,” said junior libero Kristy Elswick, who broke the SIU career record for digs in the last meeting against Drake on Oct. 5.

In their first series this season, the Salukis came out 1-1 with a victory over the Bulldogs and a loss to the Bluejays on Oct. 5 and 6 at Davies Gymnasium.

This time, the test will be to try to get the victory over Creighton, which is ranked third in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

Leading the way for the Bluejays is senior Kelly Goc, who ranks second in the MVC with 4.47 kills per game, and junior libero Bianca Riviera, who records 5.94 digs per game.

Coach Brenda Winkeler said the key for a Saluki win would be to shut down Goc’s attack.

“She is in my opinion the best middle in the league,” Winkeler said.


Winkeler said the team would try a different blocking approach along with a different lineup to attempt to shut down Creighton’s offense.

Freshman outside hitter Jennifer Berwanger – who averages 2.07 kills per game for the Salukis – said it will take more motivation to pull an upset over the Bluejays, but the team will be ready come game time.

“It’s just a lot of hard work and really busting our butts,” Berwanger said. “Sometimes we come out killing the ball, sometimes we won’t. But if we work hard we can beat any team.”

The Salukis will then travel to Drake on Saturday to take on the Bulldogs, who have compiled a 2-5 record since their last meeting with the Salukis.

Drake’s offense is led by Angela Bys with 4.12 kills per game and freshman libero Alana Wittenburg averaging 3.49 digs per game.

Elswick said the biggest thing for the team to keep in mind is not underestimating Drake, which is ranked eighth in the MVC.

The Salukis will return home Nov. 9 and 10 for their final series of the season at Davies Gymnasium against Bradley and Northern Iowa.

Daily Egyptian reporter Megan Kramper can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 282 or [email protected].