Is new Saluki Volleyball coach Kari Thompson up to the task of coaching in the tough Missouri Valley Conference? That question will be answered in two or three years after she recruits a few classes.
She was 102-98 overall as head coach at North Dakota State University, and 40-20 in her first two seasons. Her 2010 team had a robust RPI of 42 and her 2010 and 2011 teams participated in the NCAA Tournament.
Her overall record in the Summit League was 66-38 — but 30 of those wins came in her first two years (‘10 and ‘11).
Can she recruit well enough to keep things going for one of SIU’s premier women’s program? At least she won’t have much problems getting wins with the team former Saluki coach Doug Ingram left her at the Carbondale campus.
SIU returns 11 letter winners (including seven seniors) from a SIU team that went 21-12 in 2017.
Thompson likes what she sees already.
“I’ve had a chance to see SIU’s team personally while I was in Carbondale and on game film,” Thompson said. “From what I saw, we will give fans their money’s worth.”
It appears Thompson will emphasize defense and playing hard.
“We will have fast transitions to our hitters, intense, scrappy defense and have long rallies,” she said.
She already has the confidence of her boss, SIU AD Tommy Bell. “Kari is seasoned, and experienced,” said Bell. “Her Midwest recruiting ties, and defensive-minded approach fits the MVC. We feel fortunate to attract a head coach of Kari’s caliber. She demonstrated in her interview a real passion for coaching.”
For her part, Thompson was magnanimous in her statement about her former employers.
“I am grateful to NDSU for the opportunity they gave me,” said Thompson. “(But I have) exciting new challenges at SIU.”
The teams in the Missouri Valley typically have multiple bids to the NCAA tournament. If Thompson can manage a veteran club in the right manner, they have a chance to fight for a bid next year.
If the 2017 team succeeds, then Thompson will be able to go out and sell her new program to recruits for 2018 and beyond.