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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports volleyball

IU prepares for Euro trip

IU set to play 7 matches against several European amateur teams

The IU volleyball team has been practicing all spring to this point — nearly six months removed from its last competitive match, save for a couple of small spring tournaments.

However, the Hoosiers get their payoff Wednesday as they embark on an 11-day  European tour for sightseeing and a series of matches against some of the continent’s top youth competition.

IU coach Sherry Dunbar said the team’s pre-tour practice schedule has made the players and coaches ready and excited for the trip.

“We’re trying to use these 10 days as a huge benefit for a lot of different purposes, not just getting better in the gym, but bonding as a team and learning about Europe,” Dunbar said. “We’re ... trying to find what the true identity of this team is.”

IU has seven matches scheduled against teams from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Italy.

Dunbar likened the competition to “the very top of the Big Ten.”

“I just made a commitment when we wanted to go over there ... that we wanted to play high-level competition,” she said. “We can go over there and play any level we want to, basically. You can end up 7-0 easily, but I don’t think that accomplishes what we want to get done.

“I think in order for us to see what these 10 days, what the spring has done for us, kind of a culmination of that is to play the highest level over there.”

Dunbar, who is entering her fourth season at IU, added that while the purpose of the trip is to improve as a team, everyone should enjoy the sightseeing, as well.

“One of the biggest things is to experience Europe,” she said. “We have lots of tourist things we’re going to do, from the Vatican, the Coliseum, gondolas — we want to do it all. Some of these kids and some of the staff probably will never go back in their lifetime, so we want to experience the whole thing.”

Senior middle blocker/right-side hitter Taylor Wittmer agreed.

“We know our purpose to go over there is to play volleyball, and the athletic department is sending us over there to play volleyball and get better,” Wittmer said. “I think the sightseeing and all that is just an extra bonus, but life is short, so this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Hoosiers leave Wednesday and arrive in Prague on Thursday, where the team is scheduled to play its first two matches against Czech teams.

After a brief tour of Vienna, Austria, IU will head to Maribor, Slovenia,  to play two more matches and enhance teamwork skills on a high-ropes course.

They are set to spend May 26 in Venice, Italy and the following day in Bologna for a match.

The final three days in Rome include two matches against the Italian Junior National Team, which Dunbar said would be the best competition IU would face.

Senior middle blocker Ashley Benson, the program’s first All-America selection, said the trip will be beneficial to the team’s growth.

“We’re all going to take this trip as a step forward,” Benson said. “It’s not every day that we get to play different styles of teams, different forms of teams, and this is going to be a great opportunity for us to grow as a program in general.”

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