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Saturday, Dec. 9
The Indiana Daily Student

sports volleyball

Volleyball set to host adidas Classic

With its first tournament behind them, the IU volleyball team is ready for some new competition closer to home – Assembly Hall, to be precise. The Hoosiers will host Louisville, Wake Forest and Valparaiso in the adidas Classic at Assembly Hall from Friday until Sunday, a short move from their usual home at the University Gym.

Last Friday, the team ended their 15-year win streak in season openers when they fell to No. 24 Long Beach State 3-0. Although sophomore middle blocker Ashley Benson and senior captain Juli Pierce showed great defensive skills in the match, it wasn’t enough to give them a game victory.

Both Benson and Pierce shined, recording seven blocks and 18 digs apiece.
The match against Missouri State was another tough loss, with only one game win for the Hoosiers in a 3-1 defeat. IU tallied a .307 hitting percentage and added 71 kills to the board, but the Hoosiers couldn’t find them at crucicial times, leading to the defeat.

Those setbacks aside, the team goal remains to qualify for the NCAA Tournament this summer, which will require much focus and determination from this young team, said several players.

“That’s what is on our minds every single day, to make it to the tournament,” Pierce said. “To do that, we have to be prepared for every match and fight during every practice.”

Learning from their two season-opening losses, the Hoosiers have hit the practice court hard this week, working out the kinks that hurt them last weekend.

“We’ve been working a lot on serve and serve-receive,” said senior captain Erica Short. “We do 45 minutes of serve-receive and 25 serves with an elastic band.”

Serve-receive is a drill which features one person serving to the six teammates on the other side of the court, like a mock game. The drill helps improve players’ reaction time to serves, as well as their accuracy in passing.

Serve-receiving skills are crucial to in-game action, and players’ success in the drill can foreshadow a team’s performance.

The game itself has changed slightly since last year, going from 30-point games to 25-point games. The team recognizes the difference this rule change will make.

“We’re learning from the Long Beach game to reduce unforced errors and to start strong,” said IU coach Sherry Dunbar. “All the matches we’re playing are very tough competition. Nothing is going to come easy for them, so we’re concentrating on fighting through every drill and getting them to compete harder and fight harder.”

Dunbar has high hopes for this young team.

“Having such a young team adds a lot of personality and a lot of talent to our program,” Dunbar said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a senior or a freshman, if you go out and play hard, that’s all that we’re looking for.” 

The team has nine freshman and sophomore players, all of whom their coach thinks can contribute to the program.

“They’re doing fine at this level of volleyball, and that’s what it is all about,” Dunbar said.

The round robin-style adidas Classic will begin for the Hoosiers at 12:30 p.m. Friday against Valparaiso, with a 7:30 p.m. date with Wake Forest that same day. Play will conclude for the host team at 3 p.m. Saturday, when they take on Louisville.

Dunbar said each team has something different to bring to the tournament.

“Valpo is a good major team who knows how to win with good defense and long rallies,” Dunbar said. “Louisville is ranked No. 1 in blocking, so they are really a big physical team.
"The different varieties and styles of play that each team has to offer will not only add excitement to the match, but will also be beneficial to our players and our program.”

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