SIU fails to adjust

By Gus Bode

Hoping to continue building momentum before conference play, SIU’s volleyball team met a brick wall Wednesday night.

The Salukis were swept in their road loss against the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The Salukis have won just one match in their last five against Illinois, with the only victory coming in 1983.

Offensively, Illinois hit .452 compared to the Salukis (8-3) paltry negative .030 hitting percentage. Illinois offense was further aided by a lack of quality blocking from the Salukis. SIU finished with two blocks throughout the match, while Illinois had 11.


“Our blocking wasn’t getting pressure over a lot, and we were not in the right position sometimes,” SIU head coach Brenda Winkeler said. “We weren’t getting our hands over. They were straight up, and the ball was coming off us a lot.”

The Salukis failed to build any offensive tempo and quickly fell behind in each game. SIU was never able to string together more than four consecutive points leading to blowout defeats of 30-15, 30-14 and 30-14.

Illinois senior middle blocker Vicki Brown and freshman outside hitter Laura DeBruler led the offensive attack for the Illini (7-2). Winkeler said the team was focusing on stopping Brown, but the Salukis failed in that regard.

“Vicki (Brown) is an amazing player,” Winkeler said. “She was all-Big Ten last season, and she was player of a caliber we had not quite seen this year.”

DeBruler finished with 19 kills and a .472 hitting percentage; Brown had 12 kills and a .579 hitting percentage.

Senior outside hitter Stefanie Alde had 13 kills in her first game after returning from a lower-back injury – SIU did not expect her to be on the floor, Winkeler said.

For SIU, sophomore middle blocker Chandra Roberson finished with a team-high five kills, sophomore outside hitter Kelsie Laughlin had four kills and seven digs while junior setter Brooklyn Robbins finished with 16 assists and a team-high .200 hitting percentage.


Despite the offensive struggles, though, Winkeler said the experience of playing in front of a large crowd against a quality opponent was a good for the Salukis.

Defensively, junior libero Kristy Elswick had a season-low 10 digs in the match while sophomore middle blocker Marina Medic, who entered the match averaging 1.31 blocks per game, had no blocks.

“They were big,” Roberson said. “It wasn’t really something we were used to.”

The Salukis will try and shake off the poor performance and shift their focus to the opening of Missouri Valley Conference play against Illinois State University at 7 p.m. Friday at Davies Gym. SIU also plays Indiana State University at home at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Roberson said the team is anxious to start conference play while on their quest to earn a MVC playoff appearance for the first time since 2002.

“We are extremely excited about this weekend,” Roberson said. “This loss gets us even more pumped up for Illinois State and Indiana State.”

Daily Egyptian writer Justin Stofferahn can be reached at 536-3311 ext. (282) or [email protected].