Saluki Volleyball banquet reflects on 2012 season that rejuvenated struggling program

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    Jan 23, 2013

    By Robin Thuringer

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Last Saturday, Saluki Volleyball held its honors banquet to celebrate a season of success on and off the court.

    The team recalled a year that will no doubt be remembered as one that rejuvenated a struggling program. In 2011, Southern Illinois finished last in the Missouri Valley Conference. The team won nine games and had just three conference victories. A year later, under the direction of Justin Ingram, the Salukis finished fourth in one of the toughest volleyball conferences in the country.

    Southern Illinois wrapped up the 2012 season 21-9 overall and 11-7 in the Valley. The Salukis finished in fourth place behind three teams that were selected to the field of 64 teams in the NCAA tournament. UNI and Creighton advanced to the second round of Tournament play, while Wichita State topped No. 20 Kansas before losing in the Sweet 16 to No. 4 USC.

    SIU had the biggest RPI jump in the country during the 2012 season. Of all 335 Division I programs, SIU went from an RPI of 246 in 2011 to 79 in 2012.

    On December 13, Bailey Yeager was named a third-team Capital One Academic All-American. Yeager was one of 18 volleyball players in the country to receive All-America status. The senior holds a 3.92 cumulative GPA in speech-language pathology, and audiology.

    Newly resurfaced and repainted floor at Davies Gym.

    Davies Gym saw the highest attendance during the 2012 season since facility records have been kept. More than 5,500 fans came to check out Saluki Volleyball.

    On top of the best season in a decade, the team had a stellar year academically. The team averaged a 3.7 GPA for the fall semester, leading the athletic department in cumulative GPA. Seven athletes had a 4.0.

    Davies Gym received a face-lift during the past few months. The locker room renovation included brand new carpeting and wooden lockers with player nameplates. The court at Davies Gym was resurfaced and painted, and now features a design that makes Davies look and feel like the home of Saluki Volleyball.



    The team finished its season on Thanksgiving and is already back to work at Davies two hours a week practicing as well as spending six hours a week in the weight room with the strength and conditioning staff. In March, they will resume their 20-hour per week practice schedule in preparation for spring tournaments.

    Rachael Brown, Alysia Mayes, Laura Thole and Bailey Yeager gave farewell speeches at Saturday's banquet, highlighting their personal memories from a roller coaster career at Southern. Each senior expressed the impact Saluki Volleyball has had on their life and how much they will treasure the experiences they were privileged to have as an athlete at Southern Illinois University.