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    September 21, 2000

    Carbondale, Ill. -

    Southern Illinois University Carbondale (7-4, 0-1 in MVC) makes its first conference weekend trip of the volleyball season against Illinois State and Indiana State on September 22 and 23.

    The Salukis were swept by both squads in 1999. With an 0-1 MVC start, it's crucial for SIU to win matches on the road this season, beginning this weekend.

    "This weekend is an opportunity to get closer to a conference championship, so I'm looking for the team to play hard and win these matches. Illinois State traditionally has a good team and Indiana State is scrappy. We need a team effort and to come together and learn to win on the road," Saluki head coach Sonya Locke said. "Every year it's the same, you have to win matches on the road and win your matches at home. You don?t have to be perfect to get to the conference tournament, but road wins carry more weight than home wins. If you're in a tiebreaker you get more points if you win on the road."

    The Salukis are 4-42-1 all-time against Illinois State and 26-8-1 against Indiana State. Despite the tough record against Illinois State and the great record against Indiana State, every match in the MVC is a tough match, at home or on the road.

    "Every team in this league will play us tough and we expect that. There are no easy wins in this league. We don't underestimate anyone. Everyone wants to win a conference title. Beating someone on the road is big in the MVC," Locke added.

    The Salukis finished 1-3 last week, despite some great individual performances by some starters and a couple subs. Coach Locke expects consistent play from team as a whole, if the Salukis are to achieve success.

    "My job is to find six people at any one point and time that can help us win. It doesn't matter who it is, just as long as I get six to help us the win the matches we need to win. That?s the bottom line, the names don't matter. What does matter is that everyone contribute when they have an opportunity, whether they start or not. We expect everyone to play at a certain level," stated Locke. "We just need consistency all year, not good performances once or twice a year. We need to play at the same level all year to help the team. That will help us move up to the next level. We know what our players can do and I wasn't surpised" (Tara Cains vs. Austin Peay--17 kills, 1 error, 26 attempts--.615 hitting %).

    The early season road success will help SIU this weekend, if they can be consistent and handle the conference environment.

    "We absolutely can win both matches if we play at our level. The game of volleyball is passing well and playing defense and everything else will take care of itself. It's the same no matter who you play," Locke said. "We did have some success winning on the road, so the team knows they can do it, but the difference between now and then was that most of the road matches were at nuetral sites. This will be a lot different with conference rivalries and better home crowds than at the tournaments. It's not the same atmosphere and we have to handle it properly."

    Following games on the road against Illinois State on Sept. 22 and Indiana State on Sept. 23, SIU travels to face OVC foe SE Missouri State on Sept. 26.

    The Salukis are at home on Sept. 29 vs. SW Missouri State at 7 p.m. and Sept. 30 vs. Wichita State at 7 p.m. in Davies Gym.