SIU volleyball hosts home matches

By Gus Bode

This weekend is crucial to the SIU volleyball team’s hopes for qualifying for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

SIU (10-11, 5-6 MVC) sits in sixth place in the conference right now – the spot needed to qualify for the MVC Tournament.

The Salukis will host Northern Iowa University (17-7, 9-2 MVC) tonight and Bradley University on Saturday. Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m. in Davies Gymnasium.


Earlier in the year, Northern Iowa handed SIU what might have been its worst loss of the season, in which the Salukis were swept in three games.

In the first match against the Panthers, SIU committed seven service return errors to Northern Iowa’s one.

Winkeler said the team played poorly at Northern Iowa and need to play more crisply tonight.

“It was one of our worst passing matches of the season,” Winkeler said. “This week we’ve been working a lot on ball control.”

“We need to beat Bradley to keep our contention alive.” – Brenda Winkeler, head coach

Senior middle blocker Johannah Yutzy said the match against Northern Iowa has more than playoff implications. SIU hasn’t beat the Panthers since 1993.


“I know it’s also going to be a big night for the seniors because we haven’t beat them,” Yutzy said. “This is our last chance at it, so we’re laying everything out on the court this weekend.”

Yutzy said outplaying Nothern Iowa and capitalizing on the Panthers’ weaknesses will be critical for delivering the win.

“They’re a very, very big team,” Yutzy said. “If we outwork them, out-hustle them, we might not be stronger or necessarily bigger, but if we can put the ball down, they’re not as well on defense as they are on offense.”

After Northern Iowa, the Salukis will turn their attention to Bradley.

“As far as Bradley, we’ve experienced success against them,” Winkeler said. “Our middle did really well, we had a good performance by about four of our players, so we’re looking for that again.”

Winkeler said SIU tends to perform better when the opposition only has two key players. The Braves fit the description.

Winkeler said she plans to minimize Bradley’s outside hitter Kelly Niemeyer by serving the ball to her early and often.

“She’s not as good when she has to pass the ball and then hit it at the same time,” Winkeler said.

As for Bradley’s other threat, outside hitter Amber DeBroux, Winkeler said she will be looking for the left side of SIU’s front line to shut her down – specifically outside hitters Kelsie Laughlin and Kristie Berwanger.

Laughlin, a freshman, enjoyed a career night last match against Bradley by recording 20 digs and has also been working to improve her offense the last few weeks.

“I’ve been working on my hitting for the past couple of weeks,” Laughlin said. “Coach has been working with me on really exploding on my approach. Hopefully that will carry over to the game.”

Two wins this weekend would solidify SIU’s chances of making the MVC Tournament, while two losses could slide the Salukis out of contention altogether.

Winkeler dubbed the match against Bradley as a must-win to stay in the hunt for the postseason.

“We need to beat Bradley to keep our contention alive,” Winkeler said. “It’s an important, critical match.”