Daily Egyptian

Volleyball finishes regular season with No. 2 MVC seed

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

The SIU volleyball team (23-8, 14-4) earned a first round bye in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, finishing No. 2 in the conference standings. 

The team’s 14-4 conference record is the best in program history.

The preseason polls had SIU finishing fourth in the MVC behind Wichita State, Missouri State and Northern Iowa. SIU went 4-2 against those three teams this season. 

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“We’re putting ourselves in the position where we can go earn this thing,” coach Justin Ingram said. “All the teams in the top six of the [MVC] you can just put them in a hat — you pick one out and say that’s who played well that day.” 

SIU recorded nine straight conference wins before the 3-0 loss to Missouri State on Saturday. 

During the streak sophomore outside hitter Andrea Estrada led the Salukis in kills, despite missing two matches because of a suspension for violating team rules. She had 111 kills with a .323 efficiency and added 16 total blocks during the streak. 

Senior middle hitter Taylor Pippen will finish her career as the Salukis’ most efficient attacker in school history. She continued her successes hitting for a team-leading .414 efficiency in the nine-match win streak. She recorded 51 blocks, which led the team. 

“Compared to my freshman year, I’ve grown a lot as a player,” Pippen said after the Nov. 14 win against Indiana State. 

Before the win streak, SIU was in a four-way tie for third place in the MVC. 

The Salukis lead the conference, averaging 2.62 blocks per set and have four players in the top-10 for blocking in the MVC. 

Sophomore middle hitter Alex Rosignol is first in the conference for blocks per set, averaging 1.45. Pippen is No. 2 with 1.13. 

SIU led the MVC in total kills with 1,680. They finished tied at second with Illinois State in hitting efficiency at .259. 

As of Sunday, SIU is ranked No. 42 in the RPI national rankings. Sixty-four teams qualify for the NCAA postseason tournament, including 32 conference champions, who automatically qualify. 

SIU has never qualified for the tournament. 

“As the matches move forward, all you can do is look at the one ahead of you,” Ingram said. “We’re in position right now where we feel good about what we’re doing.” 

Ingram said SIU needs to be ranked upper-30s to lower-40s in the RPI to have a chance at an at-large bid if it does not win the MVC Tournament. 

The NCAA will announce the 64-team bracket Nov. 29. 

The Salukis play the winner of Loyola versus Missouri State at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Springfield, Mo. Last season SIU lost 3-0 Missouri State in the first round of the tournament. The Dawgs split both regular season series 1-1 against the Ramblers and Bears.   

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE

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