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    Sept. 22, 2004

    By Lou Antoine

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. - After winning its first MVC road match of the season over Evansville 3-2 on Tuesday night, Southern Illinois (4-6, 2-1 MVC) must prepare for another road trip this weekend. The Salukis will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa. to play in the University of Pittsburgh Classic on Friday and Saturday at Fitzgerald Field House.

    "I just want to see us play consistent volleyball. Tuesday night we still played inconsistent volleyball. I'd like for us to continue to take steps forward, control our side of the net better and hopefully pick up some wins this weekend," said Sonya Locke, SIU head coach.

    "I think we really need to focus on how we control our emotions and play on the road in hostile environments, not the past. Two of our opponents this weekend will be at a neutral site, which puts them in the same situation. I just want to build and feed off of the good things that we've accomplished so far. We need to stabilize the areas that we've been inconsistent in, like passing and serving."

    SIU will play non-conference matches against host Pittsburgh (7-3) on Friday at 6 p.m. and Dayton (6-4) and Long Island (8-3) on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. respectively. Despite the break from MVC play, Locke feels these matches are important for SIU's progress and season.

    "These matches could help us get to the NCAA tournament, so we need to focus on getting any win, non-conference or not early, in the season. These aren't just to fill the schedule. These are serious matches that could help us get better and possibly earn an at-large bid," added Locke.

    The Salukis are looking to beat Pittsburgh for the first time in six meetings (0-5), have a tie against Dayton (0-0-1) in 1978, and beat Long Island (1-0) in the only meeting at the 2000 Saluki Invitational.

    In the Evansville win, Southern Illinois had a season-high five athletes with double figure digs, led by Jene' Pulliam's 18 kills and 10 digs. Marissa Washington picked up her first career double-double (14 kills, career-high 12 digs) and was joined by Carrie Shephard (13 kills, 12 digs) and Holly Marita (career-high tying 68 assists and 12 digs). Erica Miller led the defense with 21 digs.