April 15, 2004
By Lou Antoine
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois continued a family trend, following the signing of Kristie Berwanger to a national letter of intent on Thursday by SIU head volleyball coach Sonya Locke.
Berwanger, whose sister Katie recently wrapped up a basketball career at SIU, will join the Saluki volleyball program in the fall after a stellar career at Lake Zurich High School in Lake Zurich, Ill.
"I'm excited about Kristie. She's the type of student-athlete we're really looking for. Kristie is tall, athletic and aggressive. We wanted a player who could play on the right side of the court and she's left-handed. She has a sister who played basketball at SIU so she was familiar with us, which was a positive," said Locke.
"I think she'll come in and adjust well to college volleyball. She has the tools offensively to come in and help us right away, and she provides depth on the right side."
Berwanger, a 6-1 left-handed rightside hitter, averaged 2.1 kills, 2.5 blocks and 2.3 digs per game with a .290 hitting percentage as a senior. She led Lake Zurich to a AA Supersectional (Sweet Sixteen) and 33-7 record in 2003, playing for head coach Michelle Jakubowski.
The versatile Berwanger was a three-year starter in volleyball, earning all-conference honors (Fox Valley Conference) as a senior and all-area honors as a junior and senior (Lake Zurich Daily Herald). She will earn eight letters as a prep in volleyball (3), basketball (3) and softball (2).
In addition to her athletic accomplishments, Berwanger is also an exceptional student, carrying a 5.405 (A+) grade point average on a 5.0 scale, ranking 40th of 467 students in her class. The academics and athletics aren't what impressed Locke and her staff most about Berwanger.
"I don't think we could have found someone who possesses the things she does as a person. She's the kind of person you want to be around and she'll be a great addition to the team, in addition to being a very good student. Kristie has a really good perspective on life and what she wants to do with her life and how to get there," Locke added.
SIU loses just one senior and returns ten athletes and three red-shirts, led by Haley Hann, a 2003 MVC All-Freshman Team member at rightside hitter. The Salukis open the 2004 season in New Orleans, La. at the Trosclair Memorial Tournament, hosted by Tulane University.