Daily Egyptian

Volleyball transfer offers versatility for Salukis

Junior middle hitter Kolby Meeks, a transfer from the University of South Alabama, watches as head coach Justin Ingram demonstrates how to serve during practice Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Davies Gym. Meeks said she transferred to SIU because she wasn't playing as much as she wanted to at South Alabama and felt she had a better chance playing here with a great team and coach.

Junior middle hitter Kolby Meeks, a transfer from the University of South Alabama, watches as head coach Justin Ingram demonstrates how to serve during practice Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Davies Gym. Meeks said she transferred to SIU because she wasn't playing as much as she wanted to at South Alabama and felt she had a better chance playing here with a great team and coach. "We're excited to have her," said Ingram. "I think she fits in great with the group of girls we have right now. Our team is very welcoming and doing a good job making sure she fits in."

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

With the graduation of the most efficient attacker in SIU volleyball history, the team had a large opening to fill if it wanted to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.

Coach Justin Ingram signed transfer sophomore middle hitter Kolby Meeks to fill the gap left by Pippen.

“Once we received permission to contact [Meeks] from South Alabama, the whole process was about a week and a half,” Ingram said. “We want to do a good job of getting to know the athlete and her family. We put as much time as we could in that short evaluation.”

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Meeks, who is the sister of NBA player Jodie Meeks, transferred to SIU from the South Alabama after two seasons with the Jaguars. She played in 81 sets at South Alabama, a Division I program that plays in the Sun Belt Conference. Sixty of her sets came during her sophomore season when she averaged 1.57 kills per set.

Nine Salukis played in more sets than Meeks last season and six averaged more kills per set.

“I wasn’t playing as much as I wanted to,” Meeks said. “I felt like I would have a better chance here.”

Last season SIU had 15 players on roster, and Ingram said he expects 19 girls on the team next year. 

“We’re a week in with [Meeks] right now,” he said. “In volleyball, she has played at a bunch of different positions. She’s attacked along the front line in each of the positions.”

Limited time with Meeks means Ingram has yet to extensively cover the Salukis’ in-game strategies on offense or defense. SIU was No. 1 in the Missouri Valley Conference with 342.5 blocks last season. 

The MVC’s top blocker last season was sophomore middle hitter Alex Rosignol, who averaged 1.51 blocks per set, which was good enough to tie for No. 9 in the country.

“I can tell since the first practice [Meeks] has gotten more and more comfortable,” Rosignol said. “I think she is adapting fast compared to how [South Alabama] played.”

With only a few practices in SIU under her belt, Meeks’ biggest challenge may be getting used to the Salukis’ active blocking scheme.

Meeks averaged .41 blocks per set in her career as a Jaguar, which is lower than the other three middle hitters on the SIU roster. Junior McKenzie Dorris averages .99 blocks per set in her career and sophomore Anna Himan averages .77.

Coach Todd Nelson said Meeks has adjusted faster to the defense than Pippen had early in her career.

Ingram said this could be because of Meeks’ experience rebounding for her high school basketball team.

“[Meeks] is interesting because she has mechanics in place to play left-side or right-side attacker but she is also athletic enough to attack in the middle,” Ingram said. “It’s nice to have — I don’t want to call her multi-positional, but she has the ability to attack from anywhere.”

Meeks is eligible to play in the 2016 season and will be a junior.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3304

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