Salukis head to Evansville Friday

    Southern Illinois will travel to Evansville to play the Purple Aces Friday night at the Carson Center.

    Southern Illinois will travel to Evansville to play the Purple Aces Friday night at the Carson Center.
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    Nov. 1, 2012

    By Robin Thuringer

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    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- The Southern Illinois University volleyball will travel to Evansville, Ind. on Friday to play the Purple Aces in their only match of the weekend. The two teams last met on October 5.

    Friday, Nov. 2  7 p.m. CT

    SIU (18-6, 8-5 MVC) vs Evansville (8-18, 3-10 MVC)

    Location: Evansville, Ind. Site: Carson Center

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    RECAPPING LAST WEEK Southern Illinois hit the road last weekend traveling to Drake and Creighton. The Salukis topped Drake in four sets on Friday night to pick up their eighth conference win of the season. Southern had a quick turnaround playing Creighton Saturday afternoon. The Bluejays defeated SIU in four sets.

    SIU vs. EVANSVILLE Southern Illinois leads their all-time series with the Purple Aces 34-11. The Salukis last played Evansville on October 5th at Davies Gym where Southern topped UE in straight sets. Evansville is looking to bounce back after falling to Creighton and Drake last weekend.  Ashley Ring leads the Aces in kills tallying 329 this season to rank third in the Valley behind Laura Thole and Alysia Mayes. Meaghan Holmes is a force at the net with a total of 105 blocks recorded to place fifth in the MVC. Evansville’s backcourt is guarded by Katie Klages who averages 5.37 digs per set to rank third in the conference.

    EIGHT IS GREAT The Salukis win on Friday night at Drake marked the eighth conference win for Southern Illinois this season. This win marks the most conference wins for SIU since the 2002 season when Southern finished with a final MVC record of 12-6.

    FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK Pippen shined for the Salukis last weekend as Southern Illinois split their weekend against Drake and Creighton earning MVC Freshman of the Week honors. Pippen was dominant against Creighton knocking in 10 kills for a .381 hitting efficiency and also recorded three solo blocks against the Jays. The freshman led SIU in hitting efficiency over weekend posting a .326 clip. Pippen knocked in a total of 19 kills to average 2.38 per set. Pippen also tallied three digs, four block solos, and four block assists to average one block per set. This is second time this season Pippen has been named Freshman of the Week.

    IMMEDIATE IMPACT Saluki newcomers Taylor Pippen and Amy Drabant have played major roles in Southern Illinois’ success this season. Pippen is an offensive threat posting the second highest team hitting efficiency this season with a hitting clip of .276. The freshman has totaled 184 kills to average 2.11 per set. Sophomore Amy Drabant quarterbacks the Saluki offense averaging 11.78 assists per set to total an impressive 954 assists so far this season.

    KILLIN’ IT Senior duo Laura Thole and Alysia Mayes have captained the Saluki offense this season posting impressive numbers offensively. Thole leads the Missouri Valley Conference in kills with 335 to average 3.81 per set while Mayes follows ranking second in the Valley averaging 3.65 kills per set. Junior Jessica Whitehead also has been knocking in kills this season averaging 3.49 per set to place fifth in the MVC.

    CONFERENCE CONTENTION With just three conference weekends remaining on the 2012 regular-season schedule, the top three teams in the standings - Creighton, UNI and Wichita State - are separated by just a few games. The middle of the pack - Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Missouri State - will look to make a move up the league standings, while the bottom four teams - Drake, Evansville, Bradley and Indiana State - will need to secure positive outcomes in the remaining weeks to have an opportunity to compete in the 2012 MVC Volleyball Championship.

    STATISTICALLY SOUND NCAA weekly statistics were released Monday and Southern Illinois is ranked with in the top-100 in five of seven categoires among all 328 Division I programs. Southern is ranked 36th in match win-loss percentage (.750), 38th in assists per set (13.09), 48th in kills per set (13.93), 52nd in hitting percentage (.242), and 58th in blocks per set (2.45).

    MAYES MAKES HISTORY Senior Alysia Mayes recorded a career-high 21 kills at Murray State on Oct. 2. She also broke an SIU single-match record in the same game with 14 block assists. On Friday Oct. 5, Mayes recorded16 kills on 19 attempts to post a career-high hitting efficiency of .842. Mayes now ranks third all-time in SIU history for a single match hitting percentage.  This past week Mayes recorded nine block assists to now rank eighth all-time in school history in career block-assists. The senior also holds a spot inside the top-ten in block solos with a career total of 88 ranking seventh all-time.

    ON DECK After Friday’s match at Evansville the Salukis will return to Carbondale for their final home matches to host UNI on Nov.9 and Bradley on Nov. 10 for Senior Night.