Sophomore outside hitter Jessica Whitehead posted 14 kills and hit for .423 against Murray State.
Sept. 9, 2011
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois volleyball team swept Murray State Friday night at SIU Arena in its first match at the facility in almost 30 years.
Southern fans re-created the raucous Davies Gymnasium crowd for the first SIU volleyball match in the Arena since 1982, as the Salukis (4-2) used the noise and atmosphere to their advantage in the 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 win over the Racers (0-9).
“I just want to thank the people that came out — the students, the band. Our staff did a great job of running it and being ready for it,” said SIU head coach Brenda Winkeler. “I really enjoyed it and so did the kids. We were thankful for the turnout.”
Southern was led by the attacking combination of junior Laura Thole and sophomore Jess Whitehead, who combined for 31 kills. Thole, who posted her fourth double-double of the season with 17 kills and 13 digs, had a strong night despite having a huge change to her normal assignment.
“We started a new set for her, and so say that she was not a fan is the truth. She usually hits way out to the antennae. We moved the set in a little bit, so she was hitting a little bit lower set,” Winkeler said. “I thought she played very relaxed with a lot of confidence.”
Whitehead posted 14 kills with a blistering .423 hitting percentage. She has yet to post less than 13 in a match this season.
“Jess was really banging the ball, and they even had some nice digs on her,” Winkeler said. “For an outside to hit a .423, that’s phenomenal. That’s double what you usually see.”
Winkeler credited junior setter Rachael Brown with executing the Saluki game plan effectively. Brown finished the night with 43 assists and eight digs.
“She did a nice job spreading the ball out and setting her hitters well,” Winkeler said. “We watch film every week together and we saw they had a big opening for the tip in the middle. She was able to take advantage of that a few times."
“I thought for the most part we played pretty consistently,” Winkeler said. “There were some lapses where it wasn’t lights out, but there were no huge problems with the match.”
Tresa Krog led Murray State with 14 digs while Lia Havili had 20 assists and Kayleah Sauer added 15 digs.
Memphis 3, Green Bay 0
In the first match of the Saluki Invitational, Memphis grinded out three close sets for the sweep over Green Bay.
Altrese Hawkins led the Tigers with 12 kills while Katie Meyer added 10 kills on a .444 hitting clip. Hajnalka Molnar had 40 assists for Memphis while Maja Kostic and Aleksandra Petronijevic each added 15 digs.
Abbey Gitter led Green Bay with 11 kills while Leah Poel had 30 assists and Brittany Groth had 15 digs.
The Saluki Invitational continues Saturday with the following matches:
Murray State vs. Memphis, 10:30 a.m.
Southern Illinois vs. Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Murray State vs. Green Bay, 5 p.m.
Southern Illinois vs. Memphis, 7:30 p.m.