SIU volleyball prepares for delayed season, maintains high expectations

The Salukis won’t play until Feb. 7, when they are scheduled to take on the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago. 

By Ryan Scott, Staff Reporter

This year the Saluki’s volleyball team will add ten new players and will play in Feb. instead of their normal fall season, in 2019 the team went 14-18 overall and 6-12 in the conference. 

The Salukis won’t play until Feb. 7, when they are scheduled to take on the Ramblers of Loyola Chicago. 

Head coach Ed Allen said he expects the team to be prepared for every game they have this season.

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“The expectations are that we’re gonna prepare to compete and win every match that we have scheduled, I don’t know what the expectations are beyond that except we work to get better every day and see where that takes us,” Allen said. 

Senior setter/hitter Rachel Maguire said her expectation for this upcoming spring season is the “same as it is every year, an MVC championship.”

Senior opposite hitter Emma Baalman said she thinks practice has gone well so far.

“All in all I think we’re doing pretty good. Assigning rhythms here and there and trying to figure out what systems work best with each person. I feel like there’s really good energy and you know we’re confident that we’re still gonna have a season in the spring, hoping that does still happen,” Baalman said

Allen said the preparations have gone well for the team this season and they have become more consistent and athletic. He said the team hasn’t had to stop practice due to a positive test yet. 

“We’ve been able to practice, and we’ve made considerable headway in the three months that we’ve been able to practice, and you know it’s been huge having that practice time considering we have ten new players,” Allen said. 

Practice has looked quite a bit different this season due to the COVID-19 guidelines, Allen said.

“The social distancing and the limited physical contact makes a different environment compared to where we’re used to high fiving each other and being in close proximity,” Allen said. 

The Salukis have 10 freshmen on the roster this season, only two of whom redshirted last year. 

Allen thinks the team has brought in a lot more depth and athleticism this year.

“We felt like we added significant depth, we brought ten players in this year, which is a huge class and we really believe a handful of those kids have a chance to step on the court and help us right away,” Allen said. 

Maguire said they have fit in really well so far and expects a few of them could have big roles this season. 

This year the Salukis’ schedule will be done with back to backs in the same location on Sundays and Mondays and the team will have 18 conference matches. Allen spoke on the chance to play out of conference games as well. 

“We’re going to attempt to have two non conference games with Memphis the first weekend we can play, which is Jan. 23, and then we’re gonna attempt to play a midweek match with St. Louis potentially the following week,” Allen said. 

Allen said he wouldn’t be surprised if the out of conference games end up not being played. 

The team is scheduled to close out the season against Illinois State on March 28. 

The conference tournament has not yet been scheduled but the Salukis will only qualify for it if they are in the top six out of ten in the MVC. 

Sports reporter Ryan Scott can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @RyanscottDE. 

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