The Salukis will open the 2013 season against UConn on Friday in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Aug 29, 2013
Friday, August 30 4 p.m. CT | Southern Illinois vs. UConn
Saturday, August 31 12 p.m. CT | Southern Illinois vs. IPFW
4 p.m. CT | Southern Illinois vs. Duquesne
GETTING UNDERWAY Southern Illinois begins its 55th volleyball season this weekend opening the season in Fort Wayne, Ind. on Friday. The Salukis will face host IPFW, Duquesne and Connecticut during the two-day tournament. The Salukis are 23-16 in season openers since the 1974 season.
EARLY SEASON SUCCESS Southern Illinois has dominated in its early-season non-conference tournaments the last six seasons. The Salukis have gone 47-8 in early-season tournaments since 2007 and have carried an overall 54-10 record against non-conference opponents in that span.
AT THE HELM In his first season as head coach, Justin Ingram guided the Salukis to a 21-9 overall record with a fourth-place 11-7 (T4th) mark in the league. It was SIU’s first 20-win season since 2002. Three Salukis were named first-team All-MVC selections and one a Capital One Academic All-American.
SCOUTING CONNECTICUT The Huskies will look to improve on a 19-12 record from last season led by 2012 Big East Co-Coach of the Year, Holly Strauss-O’Brien. UCONN was picked to finish third this season in The American pre-season coaches poll. This will be the first season for the Huskies in the American Athletic Conference. The Salukis and Connecticut last met in 2010. SIU topped UCONN 3-1. Connecticut returns 10 letterwinners.
SCOUTING DUQUESNE Duquesne and Southern Illinois will meet for the first time this weekend. The Dukes enter the season after finishing the 2012 season with a fourth place, 22-11 record in the Atlantic 10. With four starters returning, the Dukes have been selected to finish second in the A-10. SIU and Duquesne are slated to play at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
SCOUTING IPFW IPFW, the 2012 Summit League tournament champion, was picked to repeat in the 2013 season. The Mastodons return four starters from last season’s team that went 25-7, falling in five sets to Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The 2012 Summit League Player of the Year, Emily Spencer, returns for IPFW. Last season Spencer recorded 520 kills. The Salukis topped IPFW, 1-0, in their lone meeting in 2002.
Tuesday, September 3 6 p.m. CT | Southern Illinois vs. Middle Tennessee
HOMEWARD BOUND The Salukis will host Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday, September 3 for their 2013 home opener. This will be the first meeting between the two teams. Last season, Southern compiled an impressive 11-2 home record including a nine game win streak to kick-off their home court campaign.
SCOUTING MIDDLE TENNESSEE MTSU was selected to finish sixth in the Conference USA preseason poll. The Blue Raiders finished the 2012 season with a record of 10-23 and a 7-8 mark in conference play. MTSU will open its inaugural season in the C-USA hosting a weekend invitational before traveling to Carbondale for a mid-week match. The Blue Raiders and Salukis will get underway at Davies Gym at 6 p.m.
FAMILIAR FACES The Salukis will be without two of the league’s top kill-artists, in losing Laura Thole and Alysia Mayes to graduation, but return senior outside hitter Jessica Whitehead (397 kills, 52 blocks) and sophomore middle blocker Taylor Pippen (236 kills, 111 blocks), who was a member of the league’s all-freshman team a season ago. Senior outside hitters Elly Braaten and Emily Less also return for SIU this season.
SALUKI NEWCOMERS Eleven newcomers will also don Saluki maroon for the first time this season. Nine freshman and two junior transfers makeup the 2013 class. Juniors Kat Agson and Alex Rivera transferred to SIU after a successful JUCO career at volleyball powerhouse Western Nebraska C.C. where the duo led the team to a second place finish in the NJCAA.
MVC PRESEASON POLL Southern Illinois was selected to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason coaches poll. Southern returns four letterwinners from a team that finished 21-9, 11-7 MVC in 2012. Fresh off its first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, Wichita State was tabbed as the league favorite.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE The Valley will look to continue to build off the success of another historic season in 2012 that saw three league teams selected as part of the field of 64 teams to play for the NCAA national title. This marked the fifth time in league history that three volleyball teams were invited to the dance (also in 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2007). The Valley earned three first-round NCAA Tournament wins for the first time in MVC history, while Wichita State advanced to its first-ever Sweet 16 after knocking off Arkansas in second-round action.
RPI JUMP The Salukis had the biggest RPI jump in all of NCAA Division I in 2012, jumping 167 spots from the 2011 to the 2012 season.
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. The gym also received a face-lift during the off season. Renovation of the locker room included brand new carpeting and wooden lockers with player nameplates. The court was also resurfaced and painted, and now features a design that makes Davies look and feel like the home of Saluki Volleyball.
ACADEMIC ACCOLADES Southern Illinois earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the eighth consecutive season. SIU is one of 130 NCAA Division I schools to earn the distinction for having a cumulative team GPA of 3.30 or higher. Saluki volleyball finished the 2012-13 school year with a 3.475 cumulative team 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.