Salukis travel to Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday

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    Junior Taylor Pippen
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    Sept. 1, 2014

    at Middle Tennessee State
     Date Tues., Sept. 2, 2014 | 6 p.m.
     Location Murfreesboro, Tenn. | Alumni Memorial Gym (2,000)
     Live Stats Sidearm Live Stats
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     Match Notes Southern Illinois | Middle Tennessee State
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Middle Tennessee State
     Social Media @SIU_Volleyball  |  Saluki Volleyball 

    The Last Meeting
    Middle Tennessee State3
    Southern Illinois2
    September 3, 2013
    Carbondale, Ill.
    Volleyball's rally falls short in five-set loss to Middle Tennessee
    The Salukis rallied from a 2-0 deficit, but couldn't complete the comeback in a five set loss to Middle Tennessee Tuesday night at Davies Gym

    By Tyler Wooten

    MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Saluki volleyball will hit the road again this week for a non-conference match at Middle Tennessee State, played in the Alumni Memorial Gym on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

    MTSU Series History
    The Blue Raiders lead the all-time series against SIU, 1-0, after a thrilling five-set victory in Carbondale in 2013. Southern clawed their way back into the match after falling down 2-0 to MTSU, but Middle Tennessee edged out the Salukis 16-14 in the final set to take their third victory of the season. The Salukis received 34 combined kills from Jessica Whitehead and Taylor Pippen but couldn't keep up with the offensive assault from MTSU, which finished 2013 ranked in the RPI top-100.

    Scouting the Blue Raiders
    Middle Tennessee stands at 1-2 on the 2014 season after a trip to Bowling Green for the Hampton Inn Invitational. The Blue Raiders got a five-set win over Bowling Green in addition to three-set losses to Pittsburgh and Dayton. MTSU is sporting a relatively young team as it has eight newcomers and three returning starters after losing three starters plus its libero. The Blue Raiders finished 2013 with a 17-13 (8-6 C-USA) record, which was good for a fourth-place tie in Conference USA. While they lost two of its top-three attackers, the Blue Raiders still have their 2013 kills leader in Chelsea Ross, who tallied 391 kills and 287 digs last season. Ross already has 37 kills and 24 digs in three matches this season.

    Illini Classic Recap
    Despite a handful of strong sets against some of the better competition in the country, Southern returns from the Illini Classic last weekend at an 0-3 record. Last Friday (Aug. 29), Southern went head-to-head with No. 20 North Carolina and fell to the Tar Heels, 3-0. After going down 2-0, though, the Salukis showed some resiliency and played a tough third set with UNC that featured 10 ties and three lead changes. It was more of the same in the first set the next morning against 11th-ranked Illinois. Led by a lethal offensive attack that hit .467 in the first set, Southern led by as many as five at 19-14 before the Illini came storming back to take the set, 25-23. The Salukis were, however, able to snag one away from Long Beach State in the evening match. Southern and LBSU fought down to the wire before the Salukis were able to take the set, 26-24. LBSU's size and attacking power overtook SIU in the final three sets, though, as they cruised to 25-14, 25-18 and 25-15 wins.

    Junior Taylor Pippen, who led SIU last weekend with 25 kills and a hitting percentage of .296, was named to the Illini Classic All-Tournament team at the conclusion of competition Saturday night. Pippen, a native of Mundelein, Ill., was a crucial part of SIU's offensive attack last weekend alongside redshirt freshman Andrea Estrada. Pippen ranked sixth overall at the Classic in both hitting percentage and kills. Pippen was a first-team All-MVC honoree in 2013 and was named to the 2014 Preseason All-MVC squad.

    Alongside Pippen, Southern's other attackers showed some exciting capacity to slam the ball home last weekend. In her first collegiate action, redshirt freshman Andrea Estrada tallied 24 kills -- including 10 alone against Long Beach State. Fellow freshmen Abby Barrow (16 kills, .191), Nellie Fredriksson (10 kills) and Anna Himan (10 kills, .300) were instrumental above the net. As was sophomore Meg Viggars, who knocked in 16 kills in addition to 36 assists and 18 digs.

    She Sets Them Up...
    As she did last season, preseason All-MVC honoree Hannah Kaminsky played a pivotal role in setting up Southern's offensive front last weekend. Kaminsky, a sophomore native of Woodridge, Ill., tallied 53 assists and 19 digs in three matches at the Illini Classic -- averaging 5.3 assists per set. Kaminsky won the 2013 MVC Freshman of the Year after a superb freshman campaign at SIU in which she totaled the 10th-most assists in a single-season in SIU history with 1,196. In addition, Kaminsky ranked in the MVC top-10 in assists per set (fourth, 10.57) and service aces per set (0.27).

    2013 Season Review
    The Salukis are coming off a 20-13 season where they advanced to the MVC championship match, but fell to Wichita State (20-25, 17-25, 18-25). This was the first time SIU played for the conference title since 2002. The 2013 season marked SIU's second straight 20-win season, both under the leadership of head coach Justin Ingram. The 2013 season was historic for Southern as SIU's first victory over UNI on Oct. 12 broke a 40-match slide against the Panthers that dated back to 1993. Less than one month later on Nov. 4 the Salukis posted their first win over Wichita State since 2001, ending a 23-match losing streak. SIU won its first MVC tournament game since 2002 by defeating Bradley in the first round.

    Justin Ingram Back for More
    Justin Ingram is back for his third season as SIU's head volleyball coach. The program has excelled under Ingram's leadership with a 41-22 (.651) overall mark, including a 24-12 record in the MVC. In his first season at SIU, Ingram led the Salukis to their first 20-win campaign since 2002 and a trip to the 2013 MVC championships. He followed that up last season with yet another 20-win season, the first back-to-back 20-win seasons at Southern since 1984-85, and SIU's first trip to the MVC title game in 11 years. Ingram recently agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2017 season. The Salukis also welcome back assistant coaches Todd Nelson and Dean Torgerson.

    Strength of Underclassmen
    The team returns 12 players from last season and welcomes six freshmen. Of the 18-player squad, only three are upperclassmen - Taylor Pippen, Alex Rivera and Kat Agson. The team welcomes back six starters, plus libero. Sophomore right side Meg Viggars (227 kills, 361 digs, 83 blocks, 24 aces) will add to the offensive firepower for the Salukis, while sophomore Hannah Kaminsky (10.57 assists/set, 261 digs, 56 blocks, 31 aces) will once again distribute the ball in the SIU offense. Both Viggars and Kaminsky were members of the MVC All-Freshman team last season. This year's freshmen are following suit and are anticipated to bring a lot of talent to this year's squad.

    2013 Team Accolades
    Last year, recent graduate Jessica Whitehead, senior Taylor Pippen and sophomores Hannah Kaminsky and Meg Viggars each earned MVC All-Conference honors. Kaminsky also came away with MVC Freshman of the Year, and Whitehead was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Region honorable mention. The team also received its ninth-straight AVCA Team Academic Award for finishing the 2013-14 school year with a 3.402 cumulative team GPA.

    Preseason Rankings
    The Salukis were picked fifth in the MVC preseason poll after receiving 67 points from the annual poll of league coaches. The team received one first-place pick and were only one point behind No. 4-picked Missouri State. Hannah Kaminsky and Taylor Pippen were also selected as members of the 2014 MVC Preseason All-Conference Team.