November 2, 2000
Carbondale, Ill. -
The dream and goal of a Missouri Valley Conference tournament bid is gone for the Southern Illinois University Carbondale (8-17, 1-12 in MVC) volleyball team after losses to Wichita State and SW Missouri State last weekend.
Despite the disappointment, the Salukis have set new goals for the remaining five matches of the season, including two at home this weekend against Creighton on Friday, November 3, and Saturday, November 4, against Drake.
"It's sad that our hopes are out the door, but not everyone accomplishes all their goals and we're not going to roll over and die. It's not a trait of mine and it's not going to be a trait of this team" said Sonya Locke, Saluki head coach.
"I asked the team what they want to accomplish and they want to go for double digit wins, something that we didn't have last year (5-21) and we're only two away so it's totally reachable. They also want to treat the last five matches as another season and end this season enjoying what's going on, working real hard and improving. They want to get better at some of the things they wanted to accomplish this year."
Coach Locke wasn't shocked that the team set some new goals to accomplish in the remaining five matches.
"That's what I expected of them, to be real honest. I know these kids well enough. They're all competitors, even if it's at different levels. I needed for them to say what they wanted to accomplish, not have the coaches say this is what we should accomplish with the last five matches. It's more important when it comes from them," added Locke.
"Fortunately we do have some matches in front of us where we can still accomplish some things, so we're practicing as hard as we would if we had qualified for the tournament. Nobody wants to go out losing. If you're going to go down, you should go down swinging and we will. There's no doubt in my mind about that. They don't like where they are and I don't want them to like where they are. That means that they1re going to keep working."
Just because the team will not play in the tournament doesn't mean they can't learn some life lessons and improve as a group in preparation for life after volleyball.
"It's still all about the kids, how they get through things, and how we teach them to deal with adversity. If I was sitting around pouting and giving up, what would I be teaching our players. If we really are hear to prepare them for the biggest part of their lives, we need to teach them how to deal with this because there are going to be some not so good things that will happen to all of them. That1s just life and if we teach them how to keep fighting no matter what, then they're going to be successful people and I really believe that," stated Locke.
"That's what we're banking on. I'm confident that they're going to continue to work hard. I think that for our seniors Jen, Molly, and Zazza, who will be finishing their eligibility, I think they need to leave with a good feeling in their hearts because then they'll always think fondly of SIU. For the younger kids, returning for them just isn't going to be good enough, I think they want to feel better about themselves and they can help each other do that by finishing strong, so we all feel good about what we're doing."
Despite being eliminated Coach locke doesn't expect anyone to come into Davies Gym expecting a win. If so the Salukis plan to play a role in the tournament race.
"Drake is a bubble team and they have to get wins. I don't think anyone will come in here and underestimate us. Drake won't because we upset them late last year and prevented them from getting into the tournament so that's what we're looking to do again. We're looking to be the spoiler. Knocking teams out of the tournament isn't the goal, but I think we want to go out with something positive happening and it doesn't matter who we beat, just that we put out that kind of effort," said Locke.
The Salukis will host Creighton on Friday, November 3, at 7 p.m., and Drake on Saturday, November 4, at 7:30 p.m. expecting the fans to come out and support them.
"I just hope that people will continue to support us because that's just as important as the attitude of our team," Coach Locke said.