Salukis generate breathing room among MVC

By Aaron Graff

Everything seemed to go right for SIU volleyball this weekend.

The Salukis (12-13, 6-7) defeated the Bradley Braves (1-22, 1-12) 3-0 on Friday, and the Loyola Ramblers (7-15, 3-10) 3-0 on Saturday. But it was not just their success that worked out in their favor.

Only six teams qualify for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, and the Salukis have held that sixth spot for most of the season. The Ramblers and Evansville Purple Aces have been right on the brink of that spot.

Advertisement

“We’re at the point within the season where every match is a bit more magnified than earlier in the season,” coach Justin Ingram said. “Earlier, there’s a little more wiggle room. … Right now since there’s less matches on the table, both of these matches were important to create a spread within our record and the ones that are near us.”

Bradley helped SIU by winning its first match of the season against Evansville on Saturday. The Purple Aces are seventh in conference, which allowed the Salukis to gain some ground.

Junior hitter Taylor Pippen led the team with 11 kills on Friday. Freshman middle hitter Alex Rosignol made her third and fourth starts this weekend, and had the highest hitting efficiency and 6 block assists.

“My blocking got a lot better than it has been,” Rosignol said.

Rosignol helped the team defeat Bradley for the second time this season.

The team did not have a chance to sweep Loyola this year; the Ramblers defeated the Salukis 3-1 on Oct. 3. SIU did salvage a season split.

Rosignol said the team talked before the match and mentioned the importance of Saturday’s matchup. She said it was a must-win since both teams were on the fence of qualifying for the tournament.

Advertisement

“We wouldn’t feel comfortable about being in the tournament,” Rosignol said. “Now we’re comfortable with it.”

Freshman outside hitter Abby Barrow led the team with 12 kills and the highest hitting percentage. Last week, Barrow was pulled from the match against Illinois State because of a low efficiency.

“I worked on moving around the hits [Saturday],” Barrow said. “[Friday] at the Bradley game, I kept hitting it in the same spot and it’s easier for their defense to pick up the hits.”

Barrow said she talked to the coaching staff and they watched film together to set a new game plan.

Ingram said the team practiced on giving higher sets to Barrow to boost her efficiency.

SIU has a two-match lead on Evansville and a three-match lead on Loyola. The Salukis have five more matches, including their last match against the Purple Aces at Evansville.

“We’re still getting better right now,” Ingram said. “You certainly want to be getting better at the end of the season, but we’re running out of time. Our home matches we need to take advantage.”

The Salukis have their last home matches of the season starting with Northern Iowa at 7 p.m., Friday and then Drake at 7 p.m., Saturday.

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269

Advertisement