Girls Volleyball: Mallory Salis provides leadership, talent for Marist

Story Image Mallory Salis of Marist is the girls volleyball Player of the Year. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

Updated: November 12, 2012 8:20PM

It’s not easy making a varsity roster at Marist, especially as a freshman.

Mallory Salis said she was surprised enough when she showed up in summer 2009 and was told to report to the junior varsity.

She was something more than surprised when, halfway through the season she was brought up to the varsity.

“I’ve got to be honest,” she said. “I was really quiet as a freshman and I was like, ‘Oh, gosh. These seniors, they’re like the big, bad guys who are supposed to tell me what to do.’ I just did what they did and they mentored me to be what I am today.”

This season Salis did plenty of mentoring of her own as the senior leader of a RedHawks team that won 29 matches and the East Suburban Catholic title.

On the court Salis, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter, compiled 311 kills, 349 digs, 166 service points, 77 aces and 40 blocks. She was the ESCC Player of the Year.

“She’s just so well rounded,” Marist coach Natalie Holder said. “That’s what I’ve always found impressive about Mal. She contributes offensively, she contributes defensively. And she’s so respectful and so respected. There is going to be a big, gaping hole from her graduating.

“She has set the bar very high for not just physical production, but leadership, being a student and being a great young woman for our future incoming volleyball players to emulate.”

Her bar-setters? Salis pointed a pair of previous two teammates Ashley Holder (2011) and Caroline Niedospial (’10).

“Those were the two main ones that I looked up to in my four years,” she said. “I aspired to be like Carks. And me and Ashley are very much the same person — very competitive.”

Salis started playing volleyball in seventh grade for the Celtic Force club team. After two years she moved to First Alliance, and in her first season was part of a national championship squad.

“Moving over to First Alliance, that’s when it really hit me that, ‘This is what I want to do. This is what I want to go to college to do,’ ” Salis said.

Salis made her first major impact as a sophomore, with 258 kills and 257 digs to help lead the RedHawks to the Class 4A Sweet Sixteen. The numbers swelled to 409 kills and 273 as a junior.

With Holder graduating in 2012, the leadership role was handed down to Salis. She didn’t disappoint.

“I just have a mind-set where I don’t want to lose, and I want the best for my teammates,” Salis said. “I don’t just focus on myself. I focus on everyone else before I do. But in a close game I want to be the one to put down the ball, or be the one who makes a saving dig.

“I’m not a screaming-type person who gets in your face and be like, ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do that.’ Constructive criticism, I think, is the way to go. Here, it helps a lot of the girls because we don’t have coaches who are screaming in our faces, but ones who give us constructive feedback.”

Salis’ reputation as a strong, silent leader already had been established in the volleyball community. In a seasonlong poll among volleyball players asking which player from another team they’d like to have as a teammate, Salis was an overwhelming favorite.

“It’s a great feeling,” Salis said. “Knowing that people look up to me and want to play with me is an awesome feeling. I just respect players on other teams. I know that there are teams that are rivals to us, but I’m not going to throw them under the bus just because they’re a rival. I respect every team that I play against.”

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