By Ethan Cox
The Salukis matched up against the Purple Aces of Evansville on Saturday. In their previous matchup, the Salukis pulled out a 3-1 win at Evansville. Going into this game, the Salukis were coming off of a five game winning streak and planned on making it six. As for Evansville, they are having a tough season with the record of 8-19 and a conference record of 2-11.
The first set began with the Salukis looking to kickstart the game right away. Attacking the opposition very strategically, the Salukis to an early, marginal lead of 4-0. Although, the Purple Aces fought right back. Multiple times in the set, the Salukis would take two steps forward and then two steps backward, as Evansville would follow their lead. Head coach, Justin Ingram, explained, “When they played hard, we played hard. When they played lazy, we played lazy”. Later into the set, the Salukis began to play with more intensity, offensively and defensively. Evansville’s defense was slowly being picked apart by the Saluki hitters. SIU started to slowly break away from Evansville, going up 17-9 and forcing a Purple Ace timeout. Down by 14 points, the Purple Aces were in need of points and need to spark some sort of attack to reciprocate the Saluki juggernaut offense, and that’s exactly what they did. Evansville went on a quick 6-0 after head coach, Manolo Concepcion, called a timeout to organize his team. Unfortunately for them, their comeback was ended when the Salukis scored one more point to with the first set 25-16.
Going into the second set, the Salukis started off strong once again. This time, they took the early lead of 6-2, forcing an Evansville timeout after just three minutes into the set. Just like the first set, Evansville came back within a few points of the Salukis. For most of the second set, the scoreline was almost neck and neck, with SIU only leading by a few points. Late into the set, the Salukis went on a 5-0 run and were able to shut down any team attacks from the Purple Aces. The set ended with the Salukis winning 25-19 and taking a 2-0 lead on the game.
Heading into the break, hitters Meg Viggars and Taylor Pippen combined for 11 of the 15 kills. Viggars led the team with six kills. Setter Hannah Kaminsky led the team in assists with 10 out of the 14 total assists.
In the final set of the match, the Salukis had done what they had been doing all game, continuing their offensive dominance. They were once again off to a stunning start. Frustration boiled for the Purple Aces as they were being exposed defensively. The Salukis were constantly hitting the ball where the Purple Aces could not get it. For most of the set, the Salukis had doubled Evansville’s score. Late into the set, Evansville captain, Kim Deprez, started to show great leadership. She began ordering players tactically around the court in hopes of making a comeback. Directly after, Evansville went on a 4-0 run, forcing an SIU timeout. The Salukis came back determined to finish the game and secure the win. The set ended with the score of 25-13 and the Salukis took with win.
For the first time in school history, the Salukis volleyball team has qualified for the MVC tournament for four straight seasons. This is also the third time in four years that the team has reached 20 wins in a season. For the Salukis, they are now 20-7 overall and 11-3 in the MVC. After the game, Ingram mentioned the upcoming games to close the season. When talking about Wichita State and Illinois State, he described them as “tough opponents” and “challenging”.
Catch the Salukis next game against Illinois State (18-8) on November 13 at 7 p.m. at Davies Gym.