Middle hitter’s roots do not extend far

Then+junior+middle+hitter+McKenzie+Dorris+celebrates+after+a+scored+point+during+a+match+against+Missouri+State+on+Oct.+5%2C+2015%2C+at+Davies+Gym.+%28DailyEgyptian.com+file+photo%29
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Middle hitter’s roots do not extend far

Then junior middle hitter McKenzie Dorris celebrates after a scored point during a match against Missouri State on Oct. 5, 2015, at Davies Gym. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Then junior middle hitter McKenzie Dorris celebrates after a scored point during a match against Missouri State on Oct. 5, 2015, at Davies Gym. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Then junior middle hitter McKenzie Dorris celebrates after a scored point during a match against Missouri State on Oct. 5, 2015, at Davies Gym. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Then junior middle hitter McKenzie Dorris celebrates after a scored point during a match against Missouri State on Oct. 5, 2015, at Davies Gym. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

A town about 60 miles south of Carbondale adopted Superman as its own because of the fictional city in comics and films.

The real Metropolis is also the hometown of SIU volleyball junior middle hitter McKenzie Dorris.

A Superman statue stands 15-foot tall in the Metropolis city square. At 6 feet 2 inches tall, tied as the tallest SIU volleyball player, Dorris is dwarfed by her hometown’s icon.

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However, she still finds success on the court. 

Dorris led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocks per set last year with an average of 1.1. At one block per set on average this year, she is ranked sixth in the conference.

Middle hitters sophomore Alex Rosignol and senior Taylor Pippen, and junior setter Meg Viggars join Dorris as the top Saluki blockers. SIU volleyball is averaging the most blocks per set in the MVC this year with 2.42.

“The system we run is really fast,” Dorris said. “We work with [coach Todd Nelson] a lot to get to our spots.”

Blocking has always been a part of Dorris’ game.

She set the Massac County High School record for career kills with 980 and 362 blocks. Her career kill record no longer stands, but her career blocks record is still on top of the Patriots’ record books.

She is a “woman of steel” as she is the only middle hitter on the Saluki roster not affected by injuries this season. 

Dorris first encountered SIU volleyball on a Girl Scouts trip. Troop 696 attended a volleyball match and football game in 2002 when Dorris was 8 years old.

She started to play volleyball when she was 13 years old.

Coach Justin Ingram started to notice Dorris’ powers when she attended his offensive clinic with Massac County High School in 2011. 

“She was one of the best players in the stretched region of southern Illinois, not just in southern Illinois,” Ingram said. “She had height, length and potential — which often produces an offensive and defense skill set that matches what the [Missouri Valley Conference] has.”

Spending a lot of time in Carbondale and on the road for away matches has not kept Dorris away from her roots, or Superman.

Every year for a few days in June, Metropolis hosts a Superman festival, which Dorris said is like any other small town festival with street vendors selling funnel cakes and snow cones.

“McKenzie has been begging for someone [on the team] to go with her for a while, so I stepped up to the plate,” Viggars said. “I remember having a snow cone, because I’ve never had one before.”

The town also holds a Superman look-a-like contest, which neither Viggars nor Dorris competed in.

The campus’ distance from her hometown gives Dorris’ parents an easy drive for every SIU volleyball home match. 

“SIU has always been an option to go to school, not just to play volleyball,” Dorris said. “My grandpa and both of my aunts went here. My mom got her second degree here, so it’s been in my family. 

And she has only become a better player since high school. As Superman discovered and learned to control his powers, Dorris has matured since she started at SIU in 2013.

“We just recently watched McKenzie’s first month as a Saluki on film,” Ingram said. “We compared it to how she looks now — it’s tough to see it on the court — it’s like watching a child grow. You have to measure them on the door and after a couple years when you see the marks gain a foot you’re amazed by the growth.”

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE

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