Looking ahead: Salukis travel to Tennessee Tech Invitational

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

The Saluki women’s volleyball team will travel to compete in the Tennessee Tech Invitational tournament this weekend. This will be the team’s fourth and final two-day tournament event of the season, as Missouri Valley Conference play finally kicks off next week for the Salukis. 

Southern Illinois (6-5) will be entering the tournament on a two-game winning streak after defeating the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks on Tuesday and the Alabama State University Hornets last Saturday, both games having been played at home.

The pair of wins have secured for the Salukis more wins already this season than all of last season, when they recorded a 5-26 record. 

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The first matchup of the tournament for the Salukis of the tournament will be against the for Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (3-7) on Friday, Aug. 20, starting at 4 p.m. 

This won’t be the first time the Salukis have faced the Blue Raiders this season; Southern Illinois took down MTSU 3-1 on Saturday, Aug. 31, during the Marcia Hamilton Classic Tournament held at St. Louis University. 

Following the match, first-year head coach Ed Allen said he was pleased with how his team performed against the Blue Raiders, especially with lineup changes having been made.

“We did a nice job of really controlling the first two sets against Middle Tennessee State,” Allen said. “We got too comfortable exchanging points in the third set and they got in a rhythm. But I thought we settled in during the fourth set and did a nice job of dealing with the adversity of having to adjust our lineup.”

Both teams, however, have defeated the Alabama A&M Bulldogs so far this season. The Salukis took down the Bulldogs 3-1 during their home-opener match on Friday, Sept. 6, while the Blue Raiders took down Alabama A&M 3-0 during their matchup on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

The Salukis’ second match of the tournament will be a face-off against the hosting Tennessee Tech University Golden Eagles, and will take place on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 10 A.M.

The Golden Eagles (2-8) will take on the Western Illinois University Fighting Leathernecks on Friday before facing the Salukis on Saturday morning. Prior to this match, Tennessee Tech dropped a five-set match to the University of Evansville Purple Aces on Tuesday, Sept. 17. 

Southern Illinois hasn’t faced Tennessee Tech in over a decade. Their only previous matchup with the Golden Eagles took place in Sept. 2008, with the Salukis sweeping TTU at the Ball State Invitational tournament at Muncie, Indiana. 

The final match of the tournament for the Salukis will be against Western Illinois (3-7) at 5 P.M. on Saturday.

In all five previous matches against Western Illinois, the Salukis have come out on top. However, the two teams have not played one another in nine seasons; their last matchup was in Aug. 2009, with the Salukis beating the Fighting Leathernecks 3-1.

Southern Illinois and Western Illinois have both played against the Southeast Missouri State University Redhawks so far this season. SEMO managed to take down Western Illinois 3-0 during their match on Sept. 6, whereas the Salukis were able to rally and defeat the Redhawks 3-2 during last week’s match at home.

The Salukis, with a 1-2 record of games played on the road, look to improve upon the season with the three upcoming matches.

While all three games will be taking place in Cookeville, Tennessee, at Tennessee Tech’s Elben Center, Saturday morning’s match can be watched live on ESPN+, and in addition live stats online are available for all three matches.

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25

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