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UIS volleyball prepares for upcoming 2017 season

UIS Prairie Stars celebrate during 2016 season. Photo courtesy of UIS Athletics

UIS Prairie Stars celebrate during 2016 season. Photo courtesy of UIS Athletics

UIS Prairie Stars celebrate during 2016 season. Photo courtesy of UIS Athletics

Avinash Badeti, Sports Reporter

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Last season didn’t go as expected for the UIS women’s volleyball team, but it wasn’t all bad.
There were some decent winning streaks, including several wins at the beginning of the season.

At the same time, they lost quite a few games as well. When asked about last season, head coach Trey Salinas said, “Last season we saw a lot of growth in our team compared to the season before that. We are a relatively young team, we had several young players, freshmen and sophomores, who contributed in many ways from a point-scoring perspective.”

“I thought we started off the season really strong, and then it was a little bit of a roller coaster with pretty high highs and pretty low lows, and a little bit of everything in between,” Salinas continued.

“So excited that we had a decent season and we are preparing for our next season.”

Compared to the season before that, last season was like a breath of fresh air. The UIS volleyball team succeeded in many aspects in just their second season under Salinas as head coach.

Several records were broken and multiple players finished the season among the best in the GLVC.

Several of the players who have bagged top spots in the team for their contributions are soon going to graduate, so it rests on the coach to replace them and the rest of the team to step up.

Of the departing seniors, Salinas said, “We had a senior outside hitter, Ashley Beaton, who was a great player.

We also had a libero Kayla Katarzysnki, and she’ll definitely have to be replaced. We’ll miss them both”

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Salinas said, “From the perspective of the most important contributors, there were two middle blockers, Allison Splitt, who is a freshman, and Alyssa Hasler, who is a sophomore.

[Splitt] scored the most points for us throughout the season, and [Hasler] has the most blocks in the season. These are two of our stronger players on the team.”

“We have three signed players; we will sign two more in the next signing period,” said Salinas.

Erin Ripple played volleyball through all four years of high school. She was named offensive player of the year in 2014 and had 399 kills in her senior season.

“Erin Ripple is an outside/right-side, a very powerful hitter, and has had six rotations in the club. She’s one of those players who can contribute right away,” said Salinas of the new signing.

“Brianna Bush is a middle blocker. She’s very versatile; you don’t see a middle who can come in and play defense as well. … She can play anywhere, tremendous athleticism. I think she’ll do great for us,” said Salinas of the other new recruit.

Bush was named offensive player of the year in 2015. She was a two-time conference champion, and a 2015 regional champion.

Kenzie Hendon has accumulated over 350 kills between her junior and senior years.
“She is coming to us as a libero, although she currently plays as an outside hitter, super versatile, really just a big-time utility player. I can see her in a defense specialist role right away. I can definitely see her contributing as soon as she arrives,” said Salinas.

Overall, said Salinas, “We’re going to be adding five players to the team; anytime you’re adding that many members in a team there will definitely be a period where we will have to build team chemistry, but from our core 12 remaining kids, the chemistry is great.”

The next season begins in August, and the team will play their first games in Springfield on Sept. 1 and 2.
“We’re hosting a tournament here; it’s going to be a good tournament. I think we should stand to do pretty well. We have five teams coming in to compete in the tournament.”

The UIS volleyball team has grown leaps and bounds every single game, and next season should also be another step toward winning the conference.

Salinas is confident that the team will succeed in making a mark in the coming season.
“My guess is that we will be a much more improved team this season. We will definitely have a few more wins, and we’re excited.”

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UIS volleyball prepares for upcoming 2017 season