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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports volleyball

Volleyball preps for big matches

A dash of excitement, a bit of confidence and a ton of motivation are what IU coach Sherry Dunbar said will be necessary for the IU volleyball team to earn wins this weekend.

The Hoosiers will take on the Wisconsin Badgers at home Friday and the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday during Senior Night. Both games are at 7 p.m.
Earlier this season, the Hoosiers defeated both teams on the road, and now they have the chance to play on their home court with their fans cheering them on. Dunbar said it will give them the bit of confidence they need to pull through another win.

“Playing at home gives them confidence,” Dunbar said, “but we’re trying to make them understand how tough these matches are going to be. They’re not going to lay down and let us beat them again.”

Dunbar said the team had two tough practices this week, which helped them focus on fighting for every point.

Three teams are now tied for a game behind sixth place, including the Hoosiers. This weekend can make or break their dreams of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in December.

“It’s basically a four-team mini-tournament,” senior captain Erica Short said. “And if we can go out and play our game, we can definitely make it. We have to take it one match at a time in order to do it.”

Qualifying for the NCAA tournament would be a bittersweet moment for Short, who is now a senior and will no longer be able to play collegiate volleyball after this season. Short said this opportunity could help build the volleyball program that started toward the bottom and is now moving to the top.

“If we go (to the NCAA), it’s going to be great for us,” freshman defensive specialist Caitlin Cox said. “It’ll start a tradition here. If we don’t, we’ll learn that we can’t lose against certain teams or come out flat on the road in the Big Ten, not that we’re a young team is an excuse, but it’s a learning experience.”

Dunbar said the Hoosiers learned a needed lesson from last weekend, after losses to Purdue and Illinois.

The losses might have looked like deja vu from the match against Purdue earlier in the season, as the Hoosiers lost in five sets against the Boilermakers 21-25, 25-13, 19-25, 25-22, and 12-15.

It was a monumental evening for Short, however, who became the University’s all-time leader in career kills, recording more than 1,808.

It was a tough loss for the Hoosiers, but the team members said they walked off the court happy with their performance and proud of what they had accomplished.

“We played together, and a lot of things were really going our way,” Cox said. “We controlled most of the match, but at the end, the last set is when we really started to lose control.”

After reflecting on the Illinois match, the team is working to cut down on unforced errors, which resulted in an upsetting loss in which the Hoosiers fell 19-25 in three sets. They recorded 10 service errors alone, which Dunbar said was unacceptable for Big Ten volleyball.

“Everyone was on a different page,” said junior outside Kelsey Hall. “It’s a learning experience. You can’t be perfect, and I think we’re going to take what we did at Illinois and use it against Wisconsin and Northwestern as motivation.”

With only four matches left, reality has set in, and the team said it is ready to finish strong.

“We need to understand that even though we’ve beaten both of these teams, Wisconsin is playing better than what they were before, and we were the better team that night,” Cox said. “Everything needs to click, and we have to play our game, not theirs.”

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