Pippen creates SIU legacy

By Aaron Graff

One SIU volleyball player is on pace to become one of the most efficient Salukis of all time.

Junior hitter Taylor Pippen has a .408 hitting percentage, which would be the highest single season percentage in Saluki history. Sonya Locke, who hit .369 in 1981, holds the record.

“Sonya Locke means everything to this program,” coach Justin Ingram said. “Just to be mentioned with Sonya is a great feat in itself. Our focus is certainly on the team, and our production as a group. We want to win this thing. Regardless if one person or a few are [having career-best efficiencies], we’re looking for that win.”

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Pippen said she is aware she is on pace for the record, but has not paid much attention to it because she is not ready for the season to end.

Not only is Pippen’s mark significant at SIU, but it also leads the Missouri Valley Conference this season. Pippen is the only conference player with a percentage above .400. Wichita State’s Abbie Leham is second with a .399 hitting percentage.

“I like to have the mindset that I’m one of the best hitters in the conference and I’m doing the right things,” Pippen said. “Have that mindset and you’ll play like that.”

Pippen has improved her hitting percentage by nearly 100 points from last season’s .309. Ingram said she can be even better next year.

Ingram said the Salukis’ new playing system is a big contribution to her improvement, because she can hit off of two feet.

“Some of it has to do with her abilities to hit in front of the setter,” Ingram said. “She’s always good behind the setter off of one foot, they call that a slide hit. However, within our offense this year, we’re always in a three-hitter system. Which means the opportunities to go off of one foot are less.”

The change in systems gives Pippen more chances to hit the ball more effectively. Pippen said she understands volleyball better and listenes to her coaches more this year.

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“With time comes growth,” Pippen said. “Over these three years I’ve been able to figure out the right ways [to play].”

Pippen said when she has an error on an attempted kill, it frustrates her, but makes her want to kill the next attempt that much more.

Freshman middle hitter Alex Rosignol said Pippen has helped her learn the position more this year.

“I came in and I saw Taylor,” Rosignol said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I’m like her someday.’”

Rosignol said Pippen has not had to say much to her because she learns from just watching her.

“I even looked up to her before I came here,” Rosignol said. “I couldn’t wait to play with her, I knew I was going to learn so much from her.”

The Salukis have their final regular season match Friday at Evansville and the MVC tournament Nov. 27-29.

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269

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