October 4, 2000
Last Saturday, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale (8-8, 1-4 in MVC) volleyball team swept Wichita State 15-5, 15-13, 15-2 to earn its first Missouri Valley Conference win of the year.
The victory snapped a six game losing skid and should provide a boost to the team's confidence, but won't be the difference in their season.
"Anytime you can experience something that will give your team a little of their confidence back is a plus. A win at the time was very good for the team, but right now we're just looking for them to display some consistency. I don't think that win will be a huge thing that will turn our season around, but us playing more consistently will make the difference," said Sonya Locke, Saluki head volleyball coach.
The Salukis dominated Wichita State at the net, outblocking the Shockers 13-3, but until SIU can do that consistently Coach Locke will limit her excitement.
"We had an exceptional blocking performance against Wichita State. If we repeat that kind of performance, we'll have a chance to win any match. We haven't had a performance like that since the beginning of the season, so we need to be consistent," Locke added. "We played great with 26 block assists, which is good for any match, especially a three game match. When it comes to defense, a solid block makes the rest of the defense easier and we were in the right place at the right time on Saturday."
The Salukis road trip to Drake and Creighton on October 6 and 7, will give Southern Illinois a chance to prove it can play at the high level of last Saturday's sweep over Wichita State on a consistent basis.
"Being on the road this weekend will give us an opportunity to show that we can play consistently. If we beat a team 15-5 in one game, I expect us to win the next game by that same score and play at that level all the way through the match. We're still too inconsistent with some of the things we do, namely our passing and defense, which is not a good sign. We must Improve," Locke stated. "We're down one match. Success on the road at minimum is splitting two matches. I would accept that, but we're in the hole so we need to pick up a couple of wins to break even since we've lost two of three on the road and one at home. We have to pick up one on the road if we want to meet the win all home matches and win half on the road formula to get to the conference tournament. We have ground to make up."
Drake and Creighton will provide two different, but tough matches for SIU.
"Kim Bahr (134 kills) is the player to stop for Drake along with Stacie Kocourek (125). I'm not sure why they're not doing better this season (2-13). I know they had a tough preseason and a coaching change right at the beginning of the season. They'll be better when we play them, everyone plays tough against us and the game is at their place, so we expect a good match from them," Locke said. "Creighton is a seasoned team with very, very good chemistry. People underestimate the power of small players. Their setter is awesome and she knows how to run that team. She knows how to make them click. They are mostly juniors and have played together for a while, they know each other and play well together. I know Creighton will be a dogfight and if you win there, you have to win there. They won't give you anything. They'll be scrappy on defense and run a lot of quick attack."
The Salukis will need a team effort to improve on a 19-8 all-time record against Drake, including a 1-1 record in 1999. SIU has a 7-5 all-time record against Creighton, which includes two losses to in 1999.
"Qiana Nelson blocked well against SW Missouri and hit well against both schools. Jenny Noel is an all-around player so she has a hand in passing, defense, and she can control a lot of things. We need that out of someone on the court. We need everybody to perform and when they all do we'll win," said Locke.
Following the Salukis' road trip to Drake on Oct. 6, and Creighton on Oct. 7, SIU will be at home on consecutive weekends. Southern Illinois will host Northern Iowa on Oct. 13, and Bradley on Oct. 14. The Salukis will then entertain Indiana State on Oct. 20 and Illinois State on Oct. 21. All four matches will be played at 7 p.m. in Davies Gym.