Daily Egyptian

SIU volleyball midseason review

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU volleyball coach Justin Ingram had three points of emphasis for the 2015 season: record-setting hitters, finding a starting libero and continuing success with his two veteran setters.

Ingram believes this team is much improved from last year. The team hopes to make history by becoming the first SIU volleyball team to qualify for the National tournament. Halfway through the regular season, the Salukis are tied for the fifth-best Missouri Valley Conference record (10-5, 1-1). Their last 16 matches are conference matches.

Hitting Depth  

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Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Estrada leads the team in hitting with a 3.33 kills per set average — No. 4 in the Missouri Valley Conference. She has tallied 203 kills, which is sixth in the MVC. 

Senior middle hitter Taylor Pippen missed the last six matches with a sore right shoulder. Before the injury, Pippen led the team in hitting efficiency with a .377 percent through nine matches. 

Pippen is No. 1 all-time at SIU for single season and all-time hitting efficiency with .410 and .334 respectively. 

Ingram said he does not want to rush Pippen back. 

“We want Taylor for the duration of the season, not just for a match,” Ingram said. “All signs are pointing to her returning soon.”

Pippen dressed and warmed up for the match against Drake on Saturday, but did not play. 

Sophomore outside hitter Abby Barrow has averaged 12.67 kills per match and has hit for a .301 efficiency during Pippen’s injury. Barrow has 170 kills and is hitting for .239 attack efficiency this season.

“Last year I saw some time, but I’m really happy with my role on the team this year,” Barrow said. 

Sophomore middle hitter Alex Rosignol is blocking more balls than any other player in the MVC. Her 78 blocks leads the conference and her 1.42 blocks per set has her tied for 19th in the nation. 

The new defense 

Libero Alex Rivera graduated after last season and left the starting libero spot open. Junior transfer Mariana Pilon has played all 61 sets as libero this season and tallied a team-leading 236 digs.

The team also lost three defensive specialists, who quit. Sophomore Ashley Edelen is the only returning defensive specialist with playing time. She has played in 39 sets this season, usually as a serving specialist. 

Freshman Tara Routliffe in 60 sets and recorded 128 digs.

Setter Success

Ingram has called his two setters the quarterbacks of his offense. Junior setters Meg Viggars and Hannah Kaminsky are in the second year of the two-setter system for the Salukis, meaning they are splitting time at the position.

Viggars has contributed to her team in every aspect of the game. She is averaging 2.05 kills, 5.33 assists, 2.56 digs and 1.03 blocks per set this season. She also has seven service aces. 

Kaminksy is No. 9 all-time in career assists with 2239. Her 370 assists this season is No. 8 in the conference all while splitting assists with Viggars. 

SIU lost its first MVC match of the season to conference-leading Northern Iowa in four sets Friday. They bounced back for a sweep of Drake the following day. 

Saluki volleyball will begin the second half of its season at 7 p.m. Friday at Davies Gym. The team plays three matches in four days at Davies, all of which will be aired on ESPN3. 

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

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