Southern Illinois Volleyball Preseason Notebook

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    Aug 16, 2013

    By Robin Thuringer

    The Saluki volleyball team begins its 2013 season two weeks from today when the Salukis play UConn at a tournament hosted by IPFW. Here are some quick facts about this year's squad, which began practice on Aug. 8.

    1. Head coach Justin Ingram enters his second season at the helm. Last season, Ingram guided the Salukis to a   21-9 overall record with a fourth-place 11-7 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference.

    2. Key starters from last year Rachael Brown, Laura Thole, Bailey Yeager and Alysia Mayes have all graduated, leaving those positions up for grabs among the returnees.

    3. Elly Braaten, Emily Less and Jessica Whitehead make up this year's senior class, while Taylor Pippen returns as the team's lone sophomore.

    4. Nine newcomers will don Saluki maroon for the first time this season. Ingram's first class of recruits features five in-state players plus signees from Texas, Kentucky, England and Puerto Rico. Two are junior transfers from JUCO powerhouse Western Nebraska C.C.

    5. For the first time in 33 years, the program will not host the Saluki Invitational. SIU travels to IPFW, Kansas State and Marshall for non-conference tournaments.


    6. Part of the reason SIU will not host a tournament is because Ingram wants to strengthen its RPI rating.  Last season SIU had the biggest RPI jump in the country. Of all 335 Division I programs, SIU went from an RPI of 246 in 2011 to 79 in 2012. The Salukis will play four 2012 NCAA tournament teams this season.

    7. Southern Illinois earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the eighth-consecutive season last week. The team finished the 2012-13 school year with a cumulative 3.475 GPA. SIU posted a stellar 3.71 team GPA in the fall with a 3.61 mark in the spring as five members of the team carried a 4.0 over both semesters.

    8. The Missouri Valley Conference should again prove to be a top league. Wichita State is ranked No. 24 in the AVCA Preseason Poll, which was released Monday afternoon, while UNI is receiving votes.   The Shockers return five starters and 10 letterwinners from a team that went 24-10 in 2012 and advanced to the first Sweet 16 in school history.

    9. Over the past seven seasons, the Valley has been a two-bid league for the NCAA tournament, and last season three teams entered the bracket. With the departure of Creighton, the path to sharing a spot in the big dance opens up to other Valley teams on the cusp, including Southern.

    10. The Salukis play their first home match on Tuesday, Sept. 3 versus MTSU.

    Friday, Aug 26
    Women's Volleyball Indianapolis, Ind. TBA
    Saturday, Aug 27
    Women's Volleyball Indianapolis, Ind. TBA
    Women's Volleyball Indianapolis, Ind. TBA