Sept. 9, 2005
By Shalae Schulte
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois' volleyball team dropped a tough five-game match to Missouri-Kansas City Friday night in the 26th Saluki Invitational. SIU lost its home opener, 3-2, in front of a packed Davies Gymnasium.
The Salukis won the first and third games of the see-saw match, 30-25 and 30-28, but poor ball control late forced SIU to drop the final two games 30-20 and 15-13.
"It was great to see the support," Winkeler said. "I think it was a good match. UMKC plays great defense, and we just didn't have a lot of ball control."
Jene' Pulliam led the Salukis with 16 kills and 5 digs, hitting .317. Marissa Washington went errorless through three games of the match, finishing the game at .522 with 13 kills in 23 attempts and only one error. The lone senior also led SIU with four block assists.
Both teams posted three hitters in double-figure kills, as UMKC's Vanessa Portela led all players with 28 kills and 11 digs on the night.
UMKC's defense was over-powering as four Kangaroos recorded double-digit digs, including 30 from Kangaroo libero Mandy Tipton.
The Salukis' rightside hitter, Haley Hann, did not start the match due to an injury in warm-ups. The absence of Hann, a regular staple in the back row, caused the SIU defense to adopt a two-person receive for much of the match. Freshman Kristie Berwanger stepped up and made her first start at rightside in place of Hann. She recorded five kills and 10 digs, both career-bests.
"It was tough for us with Haley (Hann) out in warm ups," Winkeler added. "We were asking two people to pass. And with Ashley Saverine gone as well for a family commitment, it was like not having a back-up point guard. We made a lot of receiving errors we usually don't make."
"I think that we played well," Pulliam said. "We've picked up a lot of things up from last year. I think that's our main focus right now, to go out every game and improve and I definitely think we have done that. We had a couple of set backs, a hitter being out right before the game started. I think we adjusted well and Kristie (Berwanger) did a good job coming in and playing Haley's role."
The Salukis play the final game of the tournament Saturday at 4 p.m. when they face Arkansas State. The Indians will play UMKC at 11 a.m. Saturday before facing the Salukis to wrap up the two-day invitational.