Volleyball preps for 2008 season

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    Aug. 18, 2008

    By Kellie Close

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - With the first game approaching, Saluki head coach Brenda Winkeler is excited about what she is seeing from her 2008 volleyball team.

    "It's almost like everyone is doing well. We've got a lot of people coming back, so that's a good thing," Winkeler said. "We've been going on our eighth day and been in the gym almost six hours a day. They've been competing and really working hard through all of it."

    With Winkeler returning all six starters and libero, enthusiasm echoed through the gym during a Friday morning practice as the team prepares for its season-opening match against Sacred Heart in Niagara, N.Y. on Aug. 29.

    "They're excited. The seniors have set the tone of being competitive and working hard in the gym and they've done a great job of leading this group," Winkeler said. "Kristie Berwanger and Kristy Elswick both have been here since I've been here. They've been having great practices. Elswick has shown improvement from last year. Brooklyn Robbins setting will be another key player."

    With their first match less than two weeks away, Winkeler is still hoping to make some improvements during the upcoming practices.

    "We will still continue to work on our hitting percentage. Last year our hitting percentage was about sixth in the league. We need to put balls in bounds and make less hitting errors. With the game going to 25 it's even more important to not lose points on errors."

    Conference play begins on Sept. 19 when the Salukis host Indiana State. After last years sixth place finish, the team is already talking about what they want to come out of this years conference play.



    "Realistically, we should be fifth or sixth in the conference with everybody returning. Challenging goal would be fourth or third and then barrier breaking would be one or two in the league," Winkler said. "Last year was exciting. We were in the hunt. We were playing against the top of the league and we were actually there. If you set a goal `we want to win the league', sometimes that anxiousness can lead to poor performance."

    As for a key victory for the team this season, they are looking forward to their home match against Illinois State on Saturday, Sept. 20.

    "Last year we got over seven hundred people in the gym and we came very close to them. They've beaten the Salukis 26 straight times in conference play," Winkler said. "We are having pack the gym night again, and hoping to get eight or nine hundred in here. That would be a huge win for this program."

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