CARBONDALE, Ill. — When Bailey Neuberger arrived on the campus of Southern Illinois University on July 6, she admittedly was nervous.
Going from a small town (Marshall, pop. 3,973) to the college town of Carbondale, Illinois (pop. 25,899) the volleyball recruit enrolled in a communications class to begin the next step in what has been a phenomenal career thus far.
“I was obviously pretty nervous, because it’s seven hours away,” she said. “After the first two days when I got to meet my teammates, I’ve loved it.”
Neuberger plans on majoring in the business field.
“I chose SIU because they have a great business program, and I knew I wanted to go into that field,” she said. “But I also loved the campus when I first visited it.”
Neuberger was recruited by Kari Thompson, but her contract was terminated on Nov. 21 after the Salukis completed a 5-26 season with a 1-17 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The team’s current coach, Ed Allen, is a NCAA volleyball coaching legend. In 27 seasons as a head coach with stops at Alabama (2011-18), Tulsa (2006-10), Presbyterian (2003-05) and Anderson (1992-2002), Allen has compiled a 646-284 record, guided his team to six NCAA Tournament appearances, won nine conference championships and earned conference coach-of-year honors six times.
“When I met the new coaches they were super nice, so I decided to stay here,” Neuberger said of the coaching transition. “I can tell already that they’re good coaches.”
Neuberger also was recruited by UNC-Greensboro, UW-Milwaukee and some Division II programs.
Volleyball wasn’t the only sport Neuberger excelled in at Marshall, playing softball and basketball as well. She earned first-team All-Capitol South honors each of the last two seasons playing softball, and was named to the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All-State honorable mention team in the spring.
Neuberger also played a key role in the Cardinals winning a second-straight WIAA Division 3 state championship in basketball this past winter. After not playing as a junior to, admittedly, go through volleyball recruiting, she returned to the court. Averaging 5.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, she helped Marshall to a 26-2 record and got the opportunity to hoist the gold ball last March after scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in wins over Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau and Laconia.
“I talked to my old coach and she was fine with me playing; I’ve played basketball my whole life, so said ‘I’m just going to do it’ and took a leap of faith,” said Neuberger. “It was cool to finish my basketball career with a state championship; I’m so glad I went out.”
But when it comes to choosing sports, for Neuberger it’s a no-brainer.
“It’s always been volleyball, since I was in eighth grade,” she said as to which sport is her favorite. “I played traveling league softball, but just for fun.”
Neuberger played club volleyball for Capital Volleyball Academy (CVA) based out of Madison.
HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Neuberger was named all-conference in volleyball all four years of her career, receiving first-team Capitol South Conference honors three times while being named to the second team as a sophomore.
This past season she led the Cardinals in kills (263), attacks (104), assists (66) and digs (222).
Neuberger is one of four freshmen on the Southern Illinois roster going into the 2019 season.
“I’m hoping to work hard in the preseason to hopefully get one of those spots,” she said.
Neuberger begins her college career the weekend of Aug. 30-31 when Southern Illinois plays three matches in St. Louis.