Saluki setters pave the way for season’s success

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

When it comes to the setters, there’s no misunderstanding that the position is crucial for the success of the Saluki Women’s Volleyball team. 

“The setter has to be able to deliver a ball that puts hitters in the best of situations,” Ed Allen, head coach, said.

The Salukis run what’s called a 6-2-style offense, meaning that out of the six players on the court, two of them are setters.

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In this offense, the setter plays and sets in the back row, allowing the team to have three hitters in the front row at all times and maximize their offensive opportunities.

“[It’s about] who ought to get the ball [and] when they ought to get the ball,” Allen said. He said they are still really working on improving in this area before moving onto “making the tricky set[s].” 

It’s clear that the setter has a lot of things to consider when making a play on the ball. When it comes to communicating his expectations for his setters, Allen certainly doesn’t fall short.

“Coach Allen instills a lot of responsibility in us,” senior setter Alayna Martin said. “We are supposed to run the court, and we translate the information he is trying to get to the team. [We] put our hitters in the best position to get a kill.”

Junior setter Rachel Maguire said it’s really nice to know what is expected of them and how to accomplish it.

“He makes an outline of what the setter needs to do,” Maguire said. 

The Salukis have a depth of experience when it comes to their setters. Their roster boasts three key players for the position: Martin, Maguire, and sophomore Marissa Rossi, all returning players for the team. 

Martin, from Chesterfield, MO, has set for the Salukis since her freshman season in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, the 6 foot Saluki started every single match, leading the team for those two seasons in assists. Last season, she recorded over 30 assists in a total of eight games, and, out of the Missouri Valley Conference, Martin finished in the top ten for the most assists. 

Maguire brings an extensive background to the position as well, appearing in all matches during her freshman campaign while recording the second-most sets on the team, and starting 19 out of 23 matches played last year. During her 2018 season, the 6 foot setter from Bloomington, IL, stood out by totaling 140 kills and 140 digs for the season, averaging two per game. 

So far this season, Maguire has already earned honors during the Marcia Hamilton Classic Tournament hosted by the St. Louis University Billikens, in which she was named to the all-tournament team. 

“It felt really cool to win it,” Maguire said. “I had a great setter to help me. I like to be helping the team as much as I can… even if it’s the little things, it’s a team effort.”

Rossi, from Grand Rapids, MN, made her debut as a Saluki last season in 15 matches and 33 sets total. In six matches, Rossi tallied ten or more assists. In the game on Sept. 14, 2018 against Arkansas State, Rossi recorded an assists-digs double-double with 12 assists and 15 digs. 

With this depth at the position and the bulk of the season quickly approaching, the Salukis have large expectations and goals for themselves. 

“Our main goal right now is to get to the MVC tournament,” Martin said after their win against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 7. “We’re projected to finish 9 in the [Missouri Valley] Conference. I think it would be really good for us to prove everyone wrong and show them what we’ve got since we’re a new team, and we’re really building.”

SIU finished 5-26 last season, 1-17 in conference and is already jumping out to a promising start.

The Salukis (3-3) look to improve on the season, with their first conference game being on Sept. 27 at Bradley University. 

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25.

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