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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports volleyball

Team aims to 'make it happen' in coming season

Volleyball

The IU volleyball team has its sights set on one goal as the fall approaches.

That goal is etched on the back of every practice jersey. It is said by players during practice as they tell their teammates their focus for the day.

From 5-foot-2 libero Caitlin Cox to 6-foot-3 middle blocker Ashley Benson, from freshman Kelci Marschall to former basketball player and fifth-year senior Whitney Thomas, no matter their differences, the goal is the same.

It boils down to three words: “Make It Happen.”

The team’s commitment to follow that mantra inspired returning players to remain in Bloomington for the summer and brought incoming freshmen to campus early.

“I think it’s good that we all made the commitment to stay here because it’s not mandatory,” junior right-side player and middle blocker Taylor Wittmer said. “The freshmen made the commitment to come early just so we can start getting bonded as a team and start getting in shape. We had a lot of fun with it.”

Since the beginning of the summer, Wittmer and others have willingly participated in morning workout sessions, which involved weight lifting, running and conditioning drills, as well as afternoon open gym practices.

Wittmer said the summer began with distance running and then progressed toward more volleyball-specific drills as official practices drew near. She said she felt the extra work will give them an edge on their competition.

“It will help us a lot,” Wittmer said. “Since we’ve already done that, it’s kind of like now we’re just learning how to mesh on the court, and I think that will really help us out.”

With nearly four hours of workout time together daily, team members also spent time together off the court at cookouts, trips to the Monroe County Fair and boat excursions on Lake Monroe, sophomore setter Mary Chaudoin said.

“With so many freshmen coming in, I think we needed to spend that time together and get to know each other so, now that we’re in preseason, we can just get the work done,” Chaudoin said.

Chaudoin said she remembered the freshman experience and how unsettling it can be, which is why the team wanted its seven newcomers to get extra time to acclimate.

“Last year, when I came in as a freshman, it was scary,” she said. “You get nervous. It’s a new environment. I think all the things that we’ve done have made them more comfortable with us.”

Wittmer said getting to know the new players is beneficial in more ways than one.

“Knowing your teammate off the court helps so much on the court,” she said. “Sometimes people can’t take certain things, and, if you learn that about them, then you’ll have better team chemistry on the court.”

The jump on developing chemistry is going to be an advantage once the season begins Chaudoin said. Trust, she said, is extremely important on the court, especially once the action picks up.

“If a ball’s coming at you, you’ll know, ‘OK, she’s got it,’” Chaudoin said.

The freshmen have also benefited from working with the returning players during the summer. As practice began and the pressure to perform increased, they had an outlet.

“They can kind of look to us,” Wittmer said.

Chaudoin said she was glad she committed to putting in the extra time.

“It’s been a fun summer,” she said.

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