CARBONDALE — The SIU volleyball team makes its annual trek north to Iowa to take on two squads tied for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference this weekend.

The Salukis (4-13, 3-3 Missouri Valley Conference) take on 20th-ranked Northern Iowa (16-4, 6-0) Friday night at 7 in Cedar Falls and Drake (17-3, 6-0) Saturday at 7 p.m. in Des Moines. Both matches are scheduled to air on ESPN3.

SIU comes off a 2-2 homestand, with wins over Valparaiso and Evansville. The Salukis are 1-5 in true road games and 1-10 away from Davies Gym/SIU Arena this season.

Northern Iowa, which swept Indiana State and Evansville last week, is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in kills (fourth, 1,129), kills per set (fourth, 14.86), digs (sixth, 1,397) and assists (fourth, 1,046). The Panthers lead the series against SIU 53-13.

SIU has won 10 straight matches against Drake and holds a 42-19 advantage in the all-time series.

SIU outside hitter Andrea Estrada, who has 1,261 career kills, needs four more to pass Pat Nicholson (1983-86) for sixth place in school history. 

The Salukis' top middle hitters, Kolby Meeks and Patience Brown, have also been big parts of their offense this season. The two combined to hit .360 against the Lady Bears, with 12 kills and four blocks. Meeks had three kills and three blocks, while Brown added nine kills on 16 swings.

SIU returns home Oct. 20 to face Illinois State at 7 p.m.

— Todd Hefferman

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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