Revamped SIU takes court

By Gus Bode

The time to talk, to plot, to imagine and to institute new strategies is over for SIU volleyball. It’s time to play.

A double shot of competition awaits the Salukis at the San Diego State Invitational today. First, they’ll face the University of California-Riverside at 4 p.m. and follow it up with a match against the host school later tonight. Saturday SIU will finish its weekend against Liberty University. For most of the team, this is the first opportunity for redemption since dropping their last match of 2004 to Missouri State.

The team is more than ready to see how they will do in a meaningful setting versus outside challengers.


“I think our team is ready to play somebody else, instead of each other day in and day out,” said junior Holly Marita. “We look at it as an opportunity to be better.”

While a sense of near-ravenous anticipation could be felt from the team before they left for California Wednesday, a stronger feeling of caution kept everyone from going off the deep end. Head coach Brenda Winkeler is preaching the gospel of level headedness to her team; she doesn’t want to see anyone feeling too high or too low this weekend.

“I don’t want the kids to think about the outcome,” Winkeler said. “I want them to think about us improving on our ball control, on serving aggressively. That usually equals wins. If you worry too much about outcome and winning sometimes you can’t perform.”

Winkeler believes the game is won or lost in the mind; so much of her preparation has focused on having the team in the right mind set for winning, and more importantly, in the right mindset to accept a loss.

The team has seemed to buy into this. They know that after the disappointing 2004 season, a complete turnaround is more than a weekend away.

“We just need to go in, work on what we have worked on since pre-season and just take this thing one at a time,” said junior Johannah Yutzy. “In every practice that has led up to this, we have put out our effort. The only thing we have to be positive about is this weekend and our competition.”

Beyond the mental matters, Winkeler wants to see her team execute better offensively. Winkeler currently feels the offense is lagging behind the team’s defense. For Winkeler the squad needs balance in order to make strides in the won-loss column.


“That’s our challenge in the next few days, to try to get on the same page on offense,” Winkeler said. “There are still a lot of question marks.”

Overall, this first weekend of play will serve as a feeling-out period for the new direction of the program, which is in no rush to jump to conclusions.

“Right now we’re just focusing in and trying to make our game better,” Marita said. “If we have a couple wins in the win column or a couple in the loss column, it doesn’t really matter, it won’t make or break us.”

Reporter Kyle Means can be reached at [email protected].