Volleyball: Salukis cleans house at Saluki Invitational

By Gus Bode

The SIU volleyball team learned a few things about itself at the Saluki Invitational over the weekend.

The Salukis swept all four of their opponents on their way to winning the Saluki Invitational at Davies Gymnasium Saturday. They defeated Eastern Illinois, West Plains and Southeast Missouri State in Pool A, then Murray State, the winner of Pool B.

SIU coach Brenda Winkeler said she hoped to see an improvement in ball handling in the tournament.

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“We passed very well with the exception of one game,” Winkeler said. “The match against Eastern, we struggled with our passing.”

SIU is 10-3 in preseason play this spring and Winkeler said the Salukis are taking that momentum into the fall season.

“We came into the spring and got things done.” – sophomore libero Kristy Elswick

Sophomore outside hitter Kristie Berwanger led the Saluki charge with 34 kills, 31 digs and eight blocks during the invitational.

Berwanger said the tournament helped prepare the team mentally.

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“Being a young team coming off losing a lot of seniors, we tend to get down on ourselves a little too fast,” Berwanger said. “But today it was no big deal. We just stuck together as a team.”

Sophomore libero Kritsy Elswick had five service aces and a team-high 48 digs Saturday.

Elswick said there were certain things in each of the spring tournaments that the team did well, and the Salukis finally meshed as a cohesive unit in their final tournament.

“Today, we were able to bring it all together,” Elswick said. “We played consistent. We won the tournament so it shows that we are rising together.”

Elswick and Winkeler said the Salukis gained some much-needed confidence in themselves after their performance Saturday. SIU was 11-17 in 2006.

Elswick said the team is optimistic heading into the summer.

“We came into the spring and got things done,” Elswick said. “We’re going to go into the summer and work hard and eventually take it into the fall.”

The Salukis have to wait until August 24 to open the fall season at the Morehead State Tournament.

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