Column: In the Dawg Pound with Dillon

Early thoughts on Saluki volleyball


(Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Freshman outside hitter Maggie Nedoma and senior middle hitter Kolby Meeks attempt a block Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 during the Salukis’ Dig for a Cure match against Bradley at Davies Gym. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

The Saluki volleyball team took two out of three games at the Cardinal Classic. Although it’s too soon to judge the team off of three games, we need to at least look at what they have shown their fans so far.

After the Colombian star Andrea Estrada stepped down as SIU’s leading hitter and captain of the team, it became a matter of if and when someone would step up and take over the team.

One idea in mind was senior middle blocker Patience Brown, the only senior to have played at least a year with the Salukis.


Brown was the second leading blocker on the team with a total of 78 and fourth in kills with 192 in the 2017 season.

The Bloomington native showed her potential in the 2017 season, and so far she has yet to disappoint in her senior campaign.

After just three games, Brown has recorded 33 kills, second most on the team, along with a block.

Although the senior has only netted one block, there is no reason to believe that she will not pick it back up and show the MVC how well rounded of a player she is.

What Estrada brought to the table was not blocking, rather it was her power and her eye to find gaps in the defense.

Sophomore opposite hitter Maggie Nedoma showed that she could potentially fill the Colombian’s shoes last season with her 200 kills, the third highest on the team.

The only flaw I have found in Nedoma’s game is her serve.


The Brook Port, Ohio native rarely served in her freshman season which is a concern.

When you have an offensive powerhouse like Nedoma, you want her out on the floor as much as possible.

In the 2017 season, when it was the sophomore’s turn to serve, head coach Kari Thompson would immediately pull her out of the game and would not re-enter her in the game until she could get back on the front line.

While it may seem like she is only absent from the game for a short period, the times she is out is a very key moment.

She could be missing on a kill that could completely shift the momentum of the game, or not be there for a game-saving, diving play that only someone with her length could reach.

A player of her caliber needs to be on the floor as much as possible for the Salukis to succeed in the 2018 season.

Nevertheless with Nedoma putting up such an impressive stat line in just one year of collegiate volleyball, I look forward to seeing what she can do in her next three years.

If the sophomore can establish a solid serve, she can do just as Estrada did and establish herself as one of the best volleyball players to come through Carbondale.

One of the biggest issues with last year is that the team was young and they came in with a new coach.

Naturally you would expect the team to have some bumps in the road along the way, but the team still underperformed.

Thompson did not find her first win as the new head coach until eight games into the season, only to go on and finish with an overall record of 6-23.

In those 23 losses,  Southern lost games that they should have won including a season sweep to the Loyola Ramblers who were 0-11 in Conference play prior to taking on SIU.

With a 2-1 start to the season, it is very possible that SIU has turned their mistakes into lessons and is attempting to finish higher in the conference.

This is not to say that they will take the top spot in MVC play, but I do think that it is possible to achieve a top three finish.

If there is one thing to take away from the whole situation, it is that the team is young and they are continuing to get better.

This team is going to continuously improve not only their skills but also their team chemistry.

Starting on Friday the SIU volleyball team is going to be hosting the Saluki Invitational where they will get to showcase their skills in front of all their fans for the first time this season.

The first of three games will be held on Friday when they take on Alabama A&M University in SIU Arena. First serve is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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