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1,000 kills, one Shiloh Simonson – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

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She was always the quiet player that led by example.

In her fourth season with the Point Park volleyball team, Shiloh Simonson has had to step out of her comfort zone to do more than just lead by example.

Point Park volleyball head coach Mike Bruno watched his star outside hitter rally her teammates to complete a comeback victory in the fourth set Saturday against defending conference champion Indiana University Kokomo, just one day after making Point Park volleyball history.

As a volleyball player, Bruno calls Simonson “the real deal,” but he sees her as even a better person.

She’s even babysat his daughters numerous times.

“That speaks volumes as a dad,” Bruno said.

The senior carved her name into the Point Park volleyball record books last week when she earned her 1,000th career kill in the first set Friday against Indiana University East.

The Peters Twp. High School product became the fifth player in Point Park volleyball history since 1991 to notch 1,000 kills. She also has racked up more than 1,300 digs during her impressive Point Park career.

Simonson’s Point Park volleyball resume also includes a conference championship and two NAIA National Championship Opening Round appearances.

She needed only one kill Friday against IU East as she entered the contest with 999. She sealed the deal early in the first set en route to a 3-1 victory over the Red Wolves.

“It was really exciting,” Simonson said. “I’m just really honored to be up there with those other four girls.”

The other four players in the 1,000-kill club at Point Park include Jana Orlofske (1994-97), Rachel Roddy (2007-10), Lindsey Oberacker (2009-12) and Nicole Wurstle (2010-13). Orlofske and Roddy are both members of the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame.

Simonson already has built quite the resume, one that could someday earn her a Hall of Fame nod.

Bruno has enjoyed watching Simonson evolve over the last four years into the player she is today. She was touted as one of the top local high school recruits when she committed to Point Park, one that Bruno was anxious to throw in the starting lineup.

Simonson has played alongside passionate leaders during her four years at Point Park and now finds herself in the role of those she once looked up to.

Point Park was in a position to defeat the defending conference champions Saturday in IU Kokomo. The Pioneers looked to end the match in four sets, but the Cougars didn’t go away without a fight as they jumped out to a 12-6 lead.

That’s when Bruno watched Simonson do what so many of his past leaders did so often: vocally motivate her teammates as they rallied to victory.

Point Park went on a run and tied the set at 15 before defeating the Cougars in the fourth set 25-22, clinching a four-set victory.

“She’s always been a kid that led by example, but mid-to-late in that fourth set, she reached out of her comfort zone and started speaking more to the team,” Bruno said. “They responded well and I think that was part of the X-factor that led us to play the way we did in that fourth set.”

Playing the role of leader on the team hasn’t been easy for Simonson, but she knows she has to step up to the plate as a leading senior.

“It’s been real uncomfortable,” Simonson said. “I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone there (in the fourth set). I was always the quiet player that led by example, but now I have to go out there and I have to vocally motivate everybody. It’s a different role, but I’m trying. I think it’s kind of working.”

Simonson had leaders she looked up to during her first two years at Point Park, including former defensive specialist Olivia Fisher, who she said had the biggest impact on her and her Point Park volleyball career.

“Olivia Fischer had so much passion for the game,” Simonson said. “She was always the one that made me bring everything I had. I try to go out there and I try and lead by the example she used to lead by.”

Channeling those past leaders like Fischer, Simonson has stepped up in different capacities on the team, even if it means going outside her comfort zone. Simonson’s passion, patience and persistence helped reinforce Bruno’s thought that Simonson is “the real deal.”

Her teammates appreciate Simonson’s passion and dedication.

“Shiloh means everything to me,” said sophomore middle hitter and outside hitter Ashley Taylor. “She’s an extremely nice person. She’s awesome on and off the court. Knowing that she has 1,000 kills pushes me more to make sure that I get that by the time I’m out of here.”

It’s still early in the volleyball team’s season, and Bruno wants to utilize Simonson as much as possible before she graduates.

“Looking at that group that she hit the 1,000 kills with, that’s some great company to be in with,” Bruno said. “I think we still have some unfinished business to do while we still have her.”

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