After winning the Billiken Invitational at St. Louis University, two Saluki volleyball players were acknowledged by the conference they play for.
Freshman Taylor Pippen was chosen as Missouri Valley volleyball freshman of the week and senior Alysia Mayes was chosen as the valley’s scholar-athlete of the week. The two helped lead their team to a 3-1 win against South Alabama, a 3-1 win over Saint Louis University and a 3-0 sweep over Valparaiso.
Pippen had 27 kills and 14 total blocks during the weekend. She also had the second highest hitting percentage of the team with .392.
While it hasn’t been too difficult for her to transition from high school to collegiate volleyball, she said, the sport is taken much more seriously at this level.
“Here we are all serious about volleyball, and we all want to win,” she said.
At Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Pippen helped lead the team to a 3A Elite 8 appearance and a 52-25 record during her junior and senior seasons.
She said being recognized by the MVC makes her want to do even better.
Mayes also had an impressive tournament with 37 kills and 14 blocks. She led the team with a .426 hitting percentage and was named MVP of the tournament.
The middle blocker is studying exercise science and has a 3.765 cumulative grade point average. A player must have at least a 3.2 GPA to be selected as scholar-athlete of the week.
Mayes said she was very consistent in the tournament, and her goal is to remain consistent throughout the season.
Coach Justin Ingram said winning the tournament will translate into this weekend’s home opener. The team will take on Nicholls State at 7 p.m. today at the SIU arena. They will be back Saturday to play Arkansas-Little Rock at 12 p.m. and Tennessee Martin at 7 p.m.
Ingram said the team played together at the arena, so it shouldn’t phase them to not play at Davies Gymnasium.
Mayes said not having to travel and being able to play at home is an advantage.
“It will be a little bit quieter in the arena because it is much bigger, but it will be nice playing in a different environment,” she said.
Ingram said the team has consistently worked on game mechanics in practice such as hitter rhythm and timing sets.