Senior outside hitter Vanessa Gilliam has been killing it, literally.
Gilliam leads the Cal Poly women’s volleyball team in kills with 242, which is second in the Big West Conference. Her kill count of nearly five per game coupled with her hitting percentage of .274 has been leaving opponents diving to stop her offensive onslaught.
From behind the baseline, Gilliam leads the team with 23 serving aces. Defensively, she is second on the team in both digs (113) and total blocks (45).
“It’s very clear she’s a productive player,” coach Jon Stevenson said. “As far as her ability to attack, it’s very impressive. Vanessa is near the top of the conference in some impressive categories. There’s no question her offensive production has been very successful.”
The volleyball team is off to a 9-4 start with Gilliam, which is a drastic change from last season’s results.
In early September, the Mustangs knocked off Texas Christian, Maryland-Baltimore County, Seton Hall and George Mason on their way to the championships at the Patriot Invitational in Fairfax, VA. Cal Poly again claimed the championship the following weekend at home during the Best Western Royal Oak Invitational with wins over Portland, Loyola (Maryland) and San Jose State.
Gilliam received Most Valuable Player honors for her play in both tournaments, and her performance at the Patriot Invitational earned her the accolade of Big West women’s volleyball player of the weekend.
Despite her high achievements on the scorecard, coach Stevenson sees more room for her total development.
“She’s never been in the situation to be a go-to player,” Stevenson said. “I hope she’s a big part of the technical issues that go beyond the scope of a stat sheet- She really has the opportunity to challenge what’s under the surface.”
After leaving the team last season due to conflicts with the former coach, Gilliam has been given the opportunity to revitalize her career this season.
“I didn’t realize how important volleyball was to me until I left,” Gilliam said. “It’s always been a part of my life.
“I want to see us play our best every single game. We’ve been letting down lately and it’s frustrating when you know you can be a good team.”