Salukis end regular season on high note

By Aaron Graff

SIU volleyball ended conference play the way it started; with a win against Evansville.

The Salukis (16-14, 10-8) ended their regular season with a 3-0 win against the Evansville Purple Aces (8-22, 4-14).

Freshman outside hitter Abby Barrow led the team with 10 kills, but her hitting efficiency percentage was only .182. Ingram said Barrow was getting blocked a lot.

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“She was struggling at the beginning of the match for about the first set and a half,” coach Justin Ingram said.

Junior hitter Taylor Pippen led the team in hitting percentage at .615 with 9 kills on 13 attempts. It was her highest efficiency since Oct. 10, when she hit .700 against Drake. Pippen finished the regular season with a .413 percentage, the highest on the team.

“I’m really proud we ended the regular season play on a good note,” Pippen said.

Sophomore defensive specialist Katie Baki had 3 service aces, and led the team with 8 digs for the first time this season.

Baki did not have any receiving errors, while senior libero Alex Rivera had two. Rivera has led the team with 470 digs this season.

“We were up against a really good hitter, [Evansville senior Ashley] Ring is a great hitter,” Baki said. “I was just trying to get touches on anything I could.”

Ring recorded 10 kills, but hit -.038.

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Baki said she stood back further from the serving line because the ball floated for a longer period of time, making it harder for the opponent to know where it was going.

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Andrea Estrada led the Salukis with 316 kills this season.

With the win, the Salukis could have an easier start at the MVC tournament.

SIU clinched a conference tournament bid Nov. 7 with a 3-2 win against Northern Iowa (19-10, 13-4), but they could move up to the fifth seed.

“We did our part tonight as far as controlling what we can control,” Ingram said.

Indiana State (17-12, 9-8) had a half-game lead on SIU entering the weekend. Friday, the Salukis took a half-game lead with their win and a 3-0 Sycamore loss to the Wichita State Shockers (19-8, 13-4).

The Sycamores play Missouri State (18-11, 11-6) Saturday, and would earn the fifth seed with a win.

Missouri State will likely be the fourth seed, which means either Indiana State or SIU will play the Bears in the opening round. The sixth-seeded team will either play Northern Iowa or Wichita State in the first round, depending on which team is the second seed and which is the third.

Ingram said he is not worried about who the team plays in the opening round. He said the team will probably stick with the same rotation it has consistently used this season.

The Salukis play in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, starting Thursday.

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

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