Daily Egyptian

SIU volleyball fixes inconsistency early in conference play

SIU+senior+setter%2Fhitter+Meg+Viggars+attempts+to+score+past+Northern+Iowa+senior+outside+hitter+Amie+Held+%283%29+and+senior+middle+hitter+Kayla+Haneline+%2813%29+during+the+Salukis%27+3-2+win+over+Northern+Iowa+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+23%2C+2016%2C+at+Davies+Gym.+%28Athena+Chrysanthou+%7C+%40Chrysant1Athena%29
SIU senior setter/hitter Meg Viggars attempts to score past Northern Iowa senior outside hitter Amie Held (3) and senior middle hitter Kayla Haneline (13) during the Salukis' 3-2 win over Northern Iowa on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, at Davies Gym. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

SIU senior setter/hitter Meg Viggars attempts to score past Northern Iowa senior outside hitter Amie Held (3) and senior middle hitter Kayla Haneline (13) during the Salukis' 3-2 win over Northern Iowa on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, at Davies Gym. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

SIU senior setter/hitter Meg Viggars attempts to score past Northern Iowa senior outside hitter Amie Held (3) and senior middle hitter Kayla Haneline (13) during the Salukis' 3-2 win over Northern Iowa on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, at Davies Gym. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Jesse Robertson

After coming out of the gates hot with a 7-1 record, SIU volleyball went 2-4 starting with the Western Kentucky tournament, which featured teams such as Michigan State and then-No. 24 Western Kentucky.

Senior setter Hannah Kaminsky says she thinks her teammates have played up to the level of competition, but aren’t happy with the results.

“We’ve played some good teams this [season] and I think we should have beat more of them than we [did],” Kaminsky said. 

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Senior setter/hitter Meg Viggars said that the team was lacking consistency, and that was the key to getting back on track.

Head coach Justin Ingram thought most of the losses against higher ranked teams like No. 18 Michigan State and Western Kentucky could be excused, but wished they could have grabbed a couple more wins against lower ranked teams.

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 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."

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 in Davies Gym.

Senior libero Mariana Pilon thought the team got down and went off on their own when things get rough.

“Once we have a few bad plays we get down and go off on our own island and stop working as a team,” Pilon said. “I think we need more of a team dynamic once the ball is served.”

SIU did just that with a 3-0 start in Missouri Valley play, including a win over Missouri State, the team that knocked them out of the conference tournament last fall.

The Brazilian libero said team defense was a crucial area they needed to work on.

The team is a very strong blocking team totaling 128.0 blocks so far compared to opponent’s 85.5 in nonconference, at which time the Salukis were 27th in the nation at blocking.

SIU continued that trend with 34 blocks in conference play and opponents totaling 27, improving to 12th in Division I.

Left to right: Junior outside hitter Abby Barrow, junior middle hitter Alex Rosignol and senior setter/hitter Meg Viggars jump for the ball during the Salukis’ 3-2 win over Central Florida on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Autumn Suyko | @AutumnSuyko_DE)

Left to right: Junior outside hitter Abby Barrow, junior middle hitter Alex Rosignol and senior setter/hitter Meg Viggars jump for the ball during the Salukis’ 3-2 win over Central Florida on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Autumn Suyko | @AutumnSuyko_DE)

Viggars believed opponents were able to get 14 more kills in nonconference play due to the team not getting down and digging out the hard serves and kill attempts.

“We still aren’t getting enough digs and that’s been a recurring problem going back to last year,” she said. “If we get down and dig we’ll be a lot better off.”

Since then, SIU seems to have corrected that problem.

Before the start of conference, the team had 39 less digs than their opponents.

Starting Sept. 23 against Northern Iowa, the Salukis have 216 digs compared to opponents’ 214.

Ingram said he was impressed with his team’s start in conference play because of the overall strength of the confidence.

“The Valley is a beast, there really isn’t a top team right now,” he said. “We’re all on the same level but talent-wise it’s so close between the teams that anyone can win these games, that’s what’s fun about it.”

The Dawgs continue conference play at 7 p.m. on Friday against Bradley in Peoria.

Staff writer Jesse Robertson can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3333.

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