Back-to-back MVC losses leave volleyball road-weary

By Gus Bode

Non-conference win at Western Illinois caps long road trip

Northern Iowa and Bradley let SIU know this weekend that they are two of the best teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.

SIU volleyball sits at sixth place in the conference, after falling over the weekend to UNI and Bradley, which both now own conference records of 4-0. With the losses, the Salukis fell to 1-2 in conference play.


SIU head coach Brenda Winkeler felt strides were made on defense and in ball control, but against two hot teams more work is needed.

“I’m very optimistic about how we played,” Winkeler said. “Even though we’re not winning ball games right now, we’re playing some tough competition, and we’re getting better all the time.”

The first match of the weekend versus Northern Iowa (10-4, 4-0) was a 3-0 loss in which SIU (3-8, 1-2) was held to a .072 hitting percentage. A large part of SIU’s inefficiency was due to UNI’s 20 block assists. UNI’s defense was key during the second game when it seemed the match would be up for grabs.

SIU pulled ahead in the game by as much as six. They lost the first game 30-24 and were looking to tie the match up at 1-1. The Salukis got to game point at 30, but UNI managed to tie the game. UNI then made two kills and won the game 32-30. The Panthers won 30-22 in the third match, and SIU had its first conference loss.

“Northern Iowa is just a good blocking team; physically, they have a lot of tools,” Winkeler said. “We did what we could.”

SIU’s maturation on defense was more visible against Bradley (8-6, 4-0), but the Braves still pulled out a 3-1 win. It took the best player the Salukis have seen this year, Bradley middle blocker Lindsey Stalzer, to squash an SIU rally in the latter two games.

Bradley won the first two games by scores of 30-25 and 30-27. In the third game SIU won 30-23, but Bradley closed them out in the fourth game, 30-27. Stalzer was consistent on offense and defense. The MVC’s leader in kills per game (5.44) made 25 versus SIU, leading all hitters and her 13 digs were second best for Bradley.


To salvage the weekend, SIU beat Western Illinois in three sets (30-21, 30-21, 31-29) Sunday.

Winkeler said the Salukis were able to execute better due to facing a lesser offensive team in the Leathernecks. Winkeler also thought the non-conference match provided less pressure. A tired Saluki team appreciated the added room for error.

“It was disappointing that we couldn’t take a game because I really felt that we could have,” junior Johannah Yutzy said. “It came down to crucial points where we couldn’t control our side of the court. A disappointing weekend, but we’ll see them again.”

Reporter Kyle Means can be reached at [email protected]