Best of CKS – Middle of a Busy Week

Even though it is just Thursday morning, I have already had a fun week with a lot of exciting events on the horizon. Back on Monday, my brother, my father, and I watched the St. Louis Cardinals earn a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in a pivotal game in the NLDS (which St. Louis also won, 3-1). Since my return from St. Louis early on Tuesday morning, I have jumped headfirst into UNI prep for this week, and there is a lot to share…

The UNI volleyball team is hosting the Evansville Purple Aces and the Southern Illinois Salukis this weekend. The Panthers are tied for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference with the Illinois State Redbirds. If UNI wins both matches, the Panthers will reach 1,000 wins in program history and stay in first place in the MVC. Below, I present a quick capsule for each team:

UNI Panthers (10-6 overall, 5-0 MVC (T-First))
Last week: 3-1 win at Wichita State, 3-2 win at Missouri State ( wrap-up)
Highlighted stats: 998 program wins entering weekend; Top Ten in NCAA Division I attendance (fourth, 3,588/match) and digs/set (eighth, 17.4/match)
Key to success: Maintain strong defensive coverage, particularly in back row coming off last week
Spotlight: Eryca Hingtgen, the team’s lone senior, is seven kills away from 500 for her career

Evansville Purple Aces (6-11 overall, 2-3 MVC (T-Fifth))
Last week: 3-0 win vs. Bradley, 3-1 win vs. Loyola (Player of the Week recap)
Highlighted stats: Leads conference in overall blocks/set (2.6), fourth-to-last in NCAA Division I in aces/set (0.8)
Key to success: Finish off close sets again after winning five sets by three points or less last week
Spotlight: Tathianna Cordero, a 6’0″ outside hitter who started in the libero spot a week ago

Southern Illinois Salukis (8-9 overall, 2-3 MVC (T-Fifth))
Last week: 3-1 loss vs. Loyola, 3-0 win vs. Bradley (SIU Athletics recap)
Highlighted stats: Perfect when taking a 2-0 lead this season (6-0), winless when trailing two sets to none (0-4)
Key to success: Step up on blocks, digs to slow down offenses (SIU: worst overall opposing attack% in MVC)
Spotlight: Taylor Pippen (article from 2012), a Preseason All-MVC pick with more than a famous last name

In addition to this weekend’s volleyball matches, I’m filling out my MVC women’s basketball preseason ballot and attending UNI women’s basketball’s media day today. I’ll have reports on both when the 2014-15 preseason release comes out. Hope to see everyone at volleyball this weekend! U-N-I Fight!

Best of CKS bonus: a couple of photos from the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum from my trip to St. Louis!