Salukis head home

By Gus Bode

After a rough weekend on the road, the SIU volleyball team will return to the comforts of Davies Gymnasium today looking to wipe the slate clean.

The Salukis will take on Missouri Valley Conference foes Drake and Creighton this weekend looking to improve on their 2-3 conference record.

The Salukis begin their weekend homestand against the Drake Bulldogs tody (5-11 overall, 2-3 MVC) before playing the second ranked team in the conference in Creighton Saturday – both games starting at 7 p.m.

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Elswick said the Bulldogs, who were picked to finish in last place in the MVC preseason poll, are a scrappy team that could lead to problems for the opponent.

Drake has been led this season by underclassman Chelsea Lauersdorf, a sophomore setter with 7.16 assists per game, and freshman outside hitter Angela Bys, who records 3.57 kills per game.

Saturday’s opponent, the Bluejays (11-5, 5-0), are led by senior middle back Kelly Goc, who records 3.61 kills a game, and junior libero Bianca Rivera, who leads the team in digs with 6.01 per game – the second most in the MVC.

Winkeler said the Salukis should flourish against both teams because of their 6-1 record at Davies Gymnasium this season.

“We’ve had great crowds and great success here, so being at home is a big advantage,” Winkeler said.

Sophomore middle blocker Chandra Roberson, who is second in blocks and kills on the team, said the Salukis have come out lacking intensity to start their games, and that has hurt them in conference play.

“We have to just forget about all the mistakes we made and try to clean them up,” Roberson said.

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Sophomore middle blocker Marina Medic, who leads the team in kills and blocks through 16 games, said each player has to mentally regain focus when the Salukis hit the court Friday.

She said the team needs to regain its confidence because it is still in a position to win against good teams after starting the season 8-2.

One player looking for a hot-start is junior Kristy Elswick, who enters the weekend 19 digs shy of SIU’s all-time career record.

The 5-foot 5-inch libero averages 4.86 digs this season and looks to take over the record set by Kristie Kemner in 2002.

Even with the record in reach, Elswick said she hasn’t thought about it much and wants to keep the team as her first priority.

“I don’t keep track of it. It’s more just if we win or if we lose,” Elswick said. “I think once I graduate it will be a big deal, but right now it’s just if we go to conference tournament.”

Coach Brenda Winkeler said even with the success Elswick has had in her first two years at SIU, she still sees improvements in the junior’s game. She said she often sees players who stand out early in their careers struggle by their junior year, but Elswick has continued expanding her game and remains consistent.

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

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