Meghan Neelon making an impact early in her careerBy Ehsan Kassim | 09/15/2017 7:17pm
Meghan Neelon’s high volleyball IQ is one of the reasons Alabama’s head coach Ed Allen believes she has been successful as a freshman.
Neelon has been a big part of the reason Alabama is off to an 8-2 start this season. The success she has had early on has not surprised Allen, though.
“We recruited her with the intent that she was going to challenge and potentially win that position,” said Ed Allen. “She is a High School All-American and we knew that there was certainly potential for that to happen.”
Allen recruited Neelon strongly because she has all the qualities he looks for when he looks for a player for his team.
“She’s a very tough competitor, she wants to win, she communicates really well, she really pursues first contact with about as much aggression as any setter that I’ve ever had and she comes from volleyball-minded family,” Allen said.
Neelon was the top-rated setter in the nation each of the last three years at the USA Volleyball High Performance women’s Continental team and she has carried that success over to Alabama.
She has started all 10 matches so far and posted a double-double in her collegiate debut against Cleveland State on Aug. 25. On Sept. 2, Neelon collected a season-high 54 assists and added 18 digs for her second double-double.
Neelon is not letting her early success go to her head.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to play with all these girls,” said Neelon. “I think we are starting to have more chemistry as a team together. I am really grateful that every single game we are getting better. I always like to push myself and I feel like I am very blessed to have this opportunity, but I need to keep working harder and harder so I can get better.”
While Neelon has had success, she is looking for ways to improve. She knows what she does well, but is also working on her weaknesses.
“I can definitely work on blocking - I am late to the ball,” Neelon said. “Also getting more smooth and more rhythm with the hitters. The chemistry has gotten better, but I feel like it can get better as we grow in season.”
Neelon made her home debut last week at the Hampton Inn Bama Bash last weekend. She collected 48 assists in the sweep against Furman, along with a season-best four service aces.
Playing at home was exciting for Neelon and she is looking forward to doing it all season.
“It was super cool, it was fun to be at home in front of all the fans,” Neelon said. “I can’t wait to do it again. It was a really cool experience. It was very electric. It was so fun. I am so excited for the games to continue, especially the SEC games.”
Alabama is back in action this weekend hosting the Crimson-White Tournament at the Foster Auditorium, starting Friday. The Crimson Tide will host Murray State at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Alabama will close the tournament with a match against Troy at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Neelon feels that Alabama students should come out to the games this weekend, as students will be getting great entertainment.
“Because we’re going to win, I believe,” said Neelon. “They are really fun to watch. The games are super fast-paced and a point is scored every single time, so there’s no waiting around. It’s always super intense.”