By Robin Thuringer
CARBONDALE, Ill-- The Southern Illinois volleyball team is set to host the 2012 Saluki Invitational presented by Comfort Inn and Suites at the SIU Arena on Friday and Saturday.
Friday, Sept. 7 vs. Nicholls State, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8 vs. UALR, 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8 vs. Tennessee-Martin, 7:00 p.m.
Southern Illinois Salukis (5-1)
Head Coach: Justin Ingram, first season
Nicholls State Colonels (1-4)
Head Coach: Patrick Hiltz, first season
University of Arkansas- Little Rock Trojans (2-4)
Head Coach: Van Compton, 25th season
University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks (1-5)
Head Coach: Darrin McClure, 5th season
VOLLEYBALL RETURNS TO SIU ARENA The Southern Illinois volleyball team will host the 33rd Saluki Invitational presented by Comfort Inn and Suites Friday and Saturday at the SIU Arena, welcoming Nicholls State, UALR and Tennessee-Martin to Carbondale. The 2011 Saluki Invitational marked the first volleyball matches played in SIU Arena since 1982 and was the first Saluki Invitational played in the facility. Prior to 1982, the Arena housed select volleyball matches, including serving as site of the AIAW Division I National Championship and an exhibition match between Team USA and Japan in 1979. The Saluki Invite also marked the first volleyball at the Arena since its 2010 renovation.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK Southern Illinois left their mark on the Arch winning the 2012 Active Ankle Challenge hosted by Saint Louis University with victories over South Alabama (3-1), Saint Louis (3-1), and Valparaiso (3-0). This is the programs first title since Southern went 3-0 at the UConn Toyota Classic in 2010. Alysia Mayes was named tournament MVP while fellow seniors Bailey Yeager and Laura Thole were all-tournament team selections.
EARLY SEASON SUCCESS Southern Illinois has dominated in its early-season non-conference tournaments the last five seasons. The Salukis have gone 44-8 in early-season tournaments since 2007 and have carried an overall 49-10 record against non-conference opponents in that span.
INGRAM ERA Justin Ingram was named the seventh head coach in Saluki Volleyball history in January. Ingram brings 13 years of Division I coaching experience to Carbondale. He spent the last three years as the head coach at Arkansas State, where he led the Red Wolves to an overall record of 60-33 and was named the 2011 Sun Belt Coach of the Year.
SIU vs. NICHOLLS STATE Southern’s Friday matchup with the Colonels will be the second meeting between the two teams.SIU leads the series 1-0. Nicholls State enters the weekend with a 1-4 record. Nicholls was challenged early taking on nationally -ranked Michigan, Virginia Tech, and host Missouri falling to each to begin the season 3-0. NSU raked in their first win in a five set thriller with North Florida to close out the Tiger Invitational. The Colonels also fell to South Alabama Tuesday night in three sets. Jessica Addicks leads the team with a .348 hitting percentage and Nancy Taylor is recording 6.36 assists per set for NSU.
SIU vs. UALR Saturday’s meeting between the Salukis and Trojans will be the first meeting between the teams. UALR holds a 2-4 record entering the tournament. The Trojans competed in the Memphis Invitational but did not see action against SIU. UALR fell to Eastern Michigan in four sets but bounced back with wins against Austin Peay and Memphis. UALR met up with Austin Peay again at the University Plaza Invitational this time losing in five sets. The Trojans also fell to Oral Roberts and Missouri State. Adisa Hodzic comes in leading the Colonels with a .308 hitting percentage. Emily Pepperman has been holding down the backcourt with 108 digs on the season. UALR is coached by Van Compton who is in her 25th season with the Colonels.
SIU vs. TENNESSEE-MARTIN The Salukis lead their all-time series with UTM 8-3. The Skyhawks post a 1-5 record. The Skyhawks opened their season with a tough schedule facing Arkansas and Kansas. The teams swept UTM handing them their first losses of the season. Tennesse-Martin also fell to Northwestern State, DePaul, and Troy. UTM boasts OVC defensive player of the week, Kasey Elswick. Elswick compiled 93 digs in 14 sets over the weekend for the Skyhawks.
CONFERENCE ACCOLADES The Missouri Valley Conference recognized senior Alyisa Mayes and freshman Taylor Pippen for their contributions in the Saluki tournament title this past weekend at the Active Ankle Challenge. Mayes, who was named the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the week has a 3.765 cumulative GPA in exercise science, pounded 37 kills in three matches for an average of 3.36 per set and added a hitting percentage of .426. She also led SIU with 14 total blocks (four solos and 10 assists) and chipped in 11 digs and four service aces. MVC Freshman of the Week Taylor Pippen compiled 27 kills on the weekend averaging 2.45 per set. The freshman had the second highest team hitting percentage with a .392 hitting clip in three matches. Pippen also had 14 total blocks on the weekend.
HOME SWEET HOME SIU welcomes Nicholls State, UALR and Tennessee-Martin to the arena this weekend for the Saluki Invitational. The tournament kicks-off a six-game home stand for Southern. The team will return to Davies Gym Tuesday, Sept. 11 to welcome SEMO. Valley play will begin next Friday and Saturday when the Dawgs take on Indiana State and Illinois State.
SALUKIS VS. SUN BELT Justin Ingram will see some familiar faces on Saturday as he coaches against Sun Belt Conference member UALR. Ingram spent the last three seasons at SBC school Arkansas State. The Red Wolves compiled a record of 60-33 under Ingram’s direction and garnered three consecutive Sun Belt West Division titles. In 2011 Ingram was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year. The Salukis are 9-8-1 all-time against Sun Belt schools.
FRESH FACES The Salukis welcome four newcomers to the roster in 2012. SIU added one transfer in Amy Drabant along with three freshman Taylor Pippen, Mary Bogdanski and Chelsea Cunningham. In addition to head coach Justin Ingram, the Salukis begin the season with two new assistant coaches in Todd Nelson and Natasha Marquis. Nelson came to SIU after serving as the assistant coach for six seasons at the University of Denver. He helped the Pioneers to an overall record of 109-82 including two Sun Belt West Division titles. Natasha Marquis comes to Southern after serving as head coach for one season at Chardon State College. Prior to Chardon State Marquis spent three seasons at the University of Nebraska-Kearny as a graduate assistant.
ONLINE LIVE STATS Live stats will be available for all home matches at SIUSalukis.com. Live stats for road matches will be dependant on the host school. Links to live stats for road matches will be made available on the volleyball schedule page at SIUSalukis.com.
SALUKI VOLLEYBALL WEBSTREAM All SIU home volleyball matches will be streamed online on a pay-per-view basis via the Saluki All-Access link at SIUSalukis.com.