Sept. 4, 2010
By Dana Ingraham
STORRS, Conn. - Break out your brooms - Southern Illinois volleyball has issued a sweep advisory.
SIU (5-1) dealt 3-0 shutouts to both Hartford and Connecticut Saturday on its way to becoming the UConn Toyota Classic champions. All five of Southern's victories this season have been clean sweeps.
In the morning match, the Salukis easily handled Hartford (0-4), 25-15, 25-13, 25-12. Johnson (10 kills, nine digs) and Berwanger (nine kills, seven digs) led the Southern charge, hitting .280 and .421, respectively, while Brown put up 25 assists and seven digs.
As a team, the Dawgs maintained their solid serving game, posting seven aces, and were also strong at the net with 12 total blocks.
Heading into the nightcap, both SIU and UConn (2-1) were coming off shutouts of the other two teams in the tournament's field. The Salukis didn't take any chances with the Huskies, putting them away in three sets as well with scores of 25-20, 25-18, 25-13.
In the first set, Southern forfeited its early lead of 5-2, falling behind to 14-9 before clawing its way back to tie it at 14 with a service ace from Alysia Mayes. The Salukis finally went ahead for good at 16-15 on a Berwanger kill, extending the lead to 21-17 on back-to-back aces from Bailey Yeager. Two SIU errors cut it to 22-20, but Brown and Mayes blocked the Huskies' final attack of the set to secure the win.
After a 4-4 tie in the third set, SIU snuck by the Huskies and never looked back. Johnson delivered another one of her match-high 17 kills to spur a seven-point run for the Salukis. UConn cut it to three at 11-8, but that is the closest it would come to knocking on Southern's door. Brown chipped in two of her four aces on the night before SIU officially took the match and the tournament title.
"We played extremely well defensively this weekend," Winkeler said. "Tonight we showed some struggle passing, but we were resilient in fighting through it. Sydney Clark had a good night on the outside and that helps a lot when we are a little off in that area."
Berwanger and Yeager guided the Saluki defensive effort with 23 and 22 digs. Clark finished with 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage.
Winkeler and the Salukis come home from Connecticut with a 5-1 overall record and less than a week to prepare for their own tournament. The 31st Saluki Invitational is slated for Sept. 10-11 at Davies Gym, when SIU hosts Mississippi State, SEMO and USF.
"These victories are nice but we are already looking ahead to next weekend," said Winkeler. "We have an SEC team in Mississippi State, another Big East challenge in USF, and SEMO is always a battle. Our conference has been proven to be very tough in the preseason, so we still have a lot of work to do to continue to better ourselves in preparation."
UConn Toyota Classic All-Tournament Team
Alicia Johnson, Southern Illinois - MVP
Jennifer Berwanger, Southern Illinois
Rachael Brown, Southern Illinois
Rebecca Murray, UConn
Jordan Kirk, UConn
Alex Rieckhoff, Brown
Kami Netersole, Hartford