Three things to know about Saluki volleyball before the season opener

Three things to know about Saluki volleyball before the season opener

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

“Make history” is the SIU volleyball team’s motto this year as the team hopes to capture the Missouri Valley Conference title.

With 14 players returning from last year’s roster, there are only two new faces on the 2015 team.

PIPPEN AND ESTRADA  

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Middle hitter Taylor Pippen is starting her senior season and holds SIU’s all-time record for hitting efficiency. She was picked to the Preseason All-MVC team and hopes to end the year on the first team All-MVC.

“I’m looking to keep hitting my spots,” Pippen said. “I want to help lead my team to a championship.”

Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Estrada led the team in kills last season. Estrada has the ability to play in all six rotations. It will be rare to see her on the sidelines this season.

Estrada and Pippen played in all 113 sets last season.

LIBERO POSITION 

Last year’s starting libero Alex Rivera graduated, meaning the position is open and three players are battling for the starting spot. 

Coach Justin Ingram said there is an emphasis on keeping rallies alive on the defensive side of the ball. At 5-foot-4, sophomore Ashley Edelen is the shortest member of the team, which could help her get key digs.

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Digs will be a spot the Salukis need to improve, said Ingram. Evansville was the only team that had less digs in the MVC last season. 

This season is the first with the Salukis for freshman Tara Routliffe and junior Mariana Pilon, a transfer from Brazil. 

“I’m not trying to hit anymore, but if the team needs it I will be more than happy to help them out,” Pilon said.

While Routliffe and Edelen are both defensive specialists, Pilon is the only libero with a background as a hitter. Her ability to step up to the front line sets her apart from her competition.

Ingram said all three are ready to start for the Salukis this season.

SETTERS RETURN FOR JUNIOR YEAR

The setter position is one that will not see much change. Juniors Hannah Kaminsky and Meg Viggars will split time at setter.

Ranking third on the team in kills last year, Viggars will attempt to continue her success at the net with drop sets — catching her opponents off guard by dropping the ball into an open spot on the court on the second hit.

The SIU volleyball team kicks off its season against Delaware at 9 a.m. Friday at the UCF/Holiday Inn Express Invitational in Orlando, Fla. 

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

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