Seniors Jessica Whitehead, Elly Braaten and Emily Less
Nov. 23, 2013
The Salukis closed out the 2013 regular season on a six-game winning streak to finish 18-12 overall and 13-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference, tying the school record for most conference wins.
“I am proud of the team,” said SIU head coach Jusint Ingram. “We started the season rocky because we were learning but we knew once it started clicking that the sky is the limit.”
Jessica Whitehead shined on Senior Night recording a team-high 17 kills to lead the Salukis offensively. Fellow senior Elly Braaten punched in 11 kills while Taylor Pippen added 12. Freshman Meg Viggars recorded her sixth double-double of the season tallying 12 kills and 15 digs.
The barnburner five-set (18-25, 25-18, 25-16, 26-28, 15-13) match began with Indiana State taking the first set 25-18. Southern answered the ISU lead by defeating the Sycamores in the second set by the same score to even up the match. The Salukis recorded a match-high hitting percentage of .444 in the second set.
Southern continued the momentum into the third set silencing the Sycamore offense, holding them to a -.091 hitting percentage. SIU held a comfortable 23-16 lead when kills from Meg Viggars and Jessica Whitehead put away the set for the Salukis 25-16.
The fourth set of the night was tightly contested with four lead changes and 10 ties. Indiana State held a lead at 20-15 when the Salukis scored six consecutive points off the serve of Leah Edgerton to take a 21-20 advantage. The teams began trading points with a final stalemate at 26 when two consecutive ISU kills tipped the set in the Sycamore’s favor, 28-26.
“Indiana State really kept us on our toes,” said Ingram. “We had to battle each set and if we didn’t they were definitely going to take advantage.”
The script repeated in the fifth set with two lead changes and the score tying six times. The Sycamore’s were relentless firing off kills from a trio of attackers to take an 11-9 advantage. The Salukis were able to score three consecutive points to take a momentary 12-11 lead. ISU responded immediately taking the set back to a tie which would be answered once again by Southern. The score tied for the final time at 13 when two ISU errors ended the set.
“The seniors were so big for us this year,” said Ingram. “They all contributed in different ways and I couldn’t be prouder of the progress on the court and off the court. They proved that it just isn’t about what you do but you do for others.”
Southern Illinois will move on to compete in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Championship being held in Wichita, Kan. Nov. 28-30. The Salukis enter as the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 Bradley on Thursday at 5 p.m.