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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports volleyball

No boys allowed

Junior Nate Jones talks with players during a volleyball practice on Monday at Assembly Hall.

The “no boys allowed” rule might apply to most women’s sports at IU, but not to the volleyball team.

Sophomore Ryan Sullivan and junior Nate Jones have been practicing with the team since day one this season.

“We met coach (Sherry Dunbar) last year,” Jones said. “I helped coach a Hoosierland team here at IU, and I met (IU assistant coach) Keith Schunzel one day, and, through a reference, they asked me to help out.”

Both Sullivan and Jones play at the club level at IU and are more than willing to come to practice every day to help the women’s team.

In fact, it’s something they both really enjoy.

“It was awkward at first,” Sullivan said, “but they’re so outgoing. Practice is a total blast, and we get along with them great. We can be a big help to them, and it definitely helps us out a lot, too.”

Both men help the players with their defensive skills in hitting and blocking, and the players said that, so far, they have benefited from the help. They said both Jones and Sullivan bring not only intensity and competition to the practice court, but they’ve also become a great part of the program and are a pleasure to work with.
“Let’s just say we won’t get the ball hit to us any harder than how they hit it,” said freshman outside hitter Danielle LaGrange.

Her coach said she agrees.

“They make such a huge difference for us,” Dunbar said. “They give us more competitiveness, and they have no ego. They love doing it, and they give us a bigger block and bigger hits in practice than the girls could get from anyone else.”

Sullivan began playing competitive volleyball as a sixth grader and then at the club level in seventh grade for Sky High Volleyball Club in the Chicagoland area. His coaches noticed his strong talent and asked him to play at the varsity level, which he did all throughout high school as an outside hitter and then as a setter. He later played for the Adversity Volleyball Club, also located in the Chicagoland area.
Jones, on the other hand, has only recently involved himself with the sport.

 He gained experience playing beach volleyball for the past four years and was given the opportunity to intern with the EVP Tour, which is just one level below the AVP Tour, the Association of Volleyball Professionals.

Jones ran the tour in Chicago and said he had the opportunity to meet talented and passionate people while doing something he loves. Before Jones had the opportunity to coach the women’s volleyball team, he gained experience as an assistant coach for Hoosierland’s 18-year-old team.

Both Sullivan and Jones help run drills at practice and give 100 percent through each play, each swing and each block.

“If I see something I know how to do, I’ll give my advice and they accept our criticism,” Sullivan said. “It’s a peer-to-peer kind of thing.”

The guys come to every practice on top of their own club practices and class schedules, and it can be draining.

“I skip a lot of meals because I have 8 a.m. classes until 12 p.m. one day, and 11 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. on another day,” Jones said. “Tuesdays and Thursdays are really rough.”

Their club team also practices from 8 to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday nights, making their days jam-packed and with little time to do much extra. If they are not in class taking notes, they are on the court improving the team’s game as well as their own.

But for these two, the time commitment is worth it to see this team succeed, and they plan to do what is needed to make this happen.

“We’re doing this because it helps us so much, but more because it’s going to help this team a lot,” Jones said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

With a few weeks of practice under their belts, Jones and Sullivan spend time with the team off the court and have become a large part of the squad.

“A bunch of the girls and I live close so we hang out a lot,” Sullivan said. “Now, they make fun of my jump serve all the time and really put the pressure on.”

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