Freshman Imani Hartfield stands out for Saluki volleyball team
March 7, 2021
Freshman middle hitter Imani Hartfield is a new addition to the Salukis women’s volleyball team and she has already made a big impact on the team.
Hartfield went to high school in Sanford, Fla. where she hit .369 with 203 kills and 48 blocks as a senior. She made the All-Conference first team in 2019 and Orlando All-Area second team in 2018.
“[My mom] forced me to do volleyball and I hated it at first, but I kept playing and I realized I loved it,” Hartfield said.
Hartfield comes from an athletic family; her mom played basketball and her dad and brother played baseball. She said her family’s support is very important to her and they attend her games often.
“They come to my games all the time, though it has been a little tough with the pandemic. Their support is what keeps me going hard on my toughest days,” Hartfield said.
Hartfield is studying biological sciences in pre-med and said she is enjoying the SIU campus.
Hartfield’s volleyball career at SIU started in 2021 and she has been an impactful addition to the team. She has a total of 89 kills, averaging .320 kills a game, along with 30 blocks through the 10 games they have played this season.
“She’s a really positive player and she is very level headed as well. When we need her to get a point when it’s a really tight set, she is always cool, calm and collected,” teammate senior setter Rachel Maguire said.
Maguire said it has been really good having Hartfield on the team and she really helps out in the middle.
Hartfield’s best game so far in this season was against Valparaiso on Feb. 14. She had 14 kills, four digs and eight blocks.
“[Her kills] are super important because when she hits, she can get up there like no one else can and whenever she kills it, it is dramatic, the other team feels her hits,” Maguire said.
Maguire said Hartfield is a dynamic player and it has been really good having her on the team.
“I know if I need to get a point, I’m going to Imani,” Maguire said.
Hartfield said she was very excited when she found out she was going to be playing for SIU. Her favorite part about playing is her teammates and their encouragement and energy.
“I hope to see the team continue to give their 100 percent and be able to trust in one another to do their jobs efficiently, so the rest are able to do their own jobs to the best of their ability,” Hartfield said.
Right now, Hartfield said she is working on deep corner shots and being more consistent in blocking.
“I think I can definitely improve on my blocking and my distance from the setter and staying behind her. I think those are my two biggest things,” Hartfield said.
Hartfield said she is striving to work hard and better herself for her team so they can win more games and hopes they will be undefeated in future seasons.
Hartfield said head coach Ed Allen has helped a lot in improving her volleyball skills.
“He’s done a ton. He’s changed almost everything I’ve done for the better. He’s changed my footwork, the way I use my hands and the way I see the court,” Hartfield said.
Since Hartfield is only a freshman, she has more time under Allen to keep improving and honing her skills.
“I think she is going to improve a lot. She’s already doing great as a freshman, throughout the four years, especially under Coach, I can only see her going up,” Maguire said.
Staff reporter Janae Mosby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mosbyj.