Jessica Whitehead ranks second in the MVC in kills per set.
Nov. 4, 2013
By Robin Thuringer
CARBONDALE, Ill. - This season has been a wild ride for the Southern Illinois volleyball program. A team that features 11 newcomers, including nine freshmen, has pulled off a number of historic wins, including Saturday night's victory over Wichita State, ending a 23-match losing streak against the Shockers. Earlier this season, SIU beat Northern Iowa to snap a 40-match losing streak that dated back to 1993. The Salukis also won a thrilling five-set match at Missouri State, for their first victory over the Bears in Springfield in 15 years.
1. Southern Illinois was selected to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason Coaches poll and holds that position after splitting this weekend's matches with Missouri State and Wichita State.
2 . Senior Jessica Whitehead headlines the Saluki offense this season, averaging 4.10 kills per set to rank second in the MVC and 34th in the nation. The outside hitter currently has 1,272 career kills to rank fifth all-time in SIU history.
3. Taylor Pippen, a 2012 All-Freshman team selection, continues to be a prominent fixture for SIU. The sophomore averages 2.83 kills per set for a team-high hitting percentage of .318, which ranks seventh in the league. Pippen also contributes at the net, averaging 1.19 blocks per set to lead the team and rank fourth in the league.
4. Freshman Hannah Kaminsky has taken over at the setting position this season with the graduation of Rachael Brown and career-ending injury of Amy Drabant. Kaminsky, a three-time MVC Freshman of Week, has become a utility player for the Salukis, averaging 10.34 assists per set, 2.35 digs per set and 0.57 blocks. The Woodridge, Ill. native has also tallied a team-high 24 service aces.
5. The Salukis make their final road trip next weekend traveling to Northern Iowa and Drake. Following the road trip, Southern will play its final three regular season games at home (Nov. 15, 22, 23).
6. Northern Iowa made waves at the top of the league standings last week, knocking off both Missouri State and Wichita State on the road. The Panthers still hold the top spot in with a 10-2 conference record.
8. Illinois State began the conference season 7-0 but has since dropped to third with a 9-3 record.
9. Since 1992, no team has captured the MVC conference race with more than two league losses.
10. The middle of the pack is still being hotly contested, as Missouri State (8-5), Southern Illinois (8-5) and Bradley (6-7 MVC) will battle it out the next three weeks for positioning in the Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Championship.
11. Loyola (5-8 MVC), Indiana State (4-8 MVC), Evansville (3-10 MVC) and Drake (0-12 MVC) are still in contention for a spot in the league championship, but will need to string together victories to stay in the race.
12. The top six teams in the league will travel to Wichita, Kan. for the 2013 MVC Volleyball Championships, Nov. 28-30.