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Tuesday, Nov. 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports water polo

Hoosiers prepare for D-III matchups

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Of the 15 matches the No. 11 IU water polo team has participated in this season, 10 have been against Division I teams ranked No. 16 or higher. This weekend in the Claremont Convergence, the Hoosiers will face four more highly-ranked teams, but of the Division III variety.

IU will battle No. 2 Cal-Lutheran at 2:20 p.m. and No.1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 9 p.m. March 9. Then, on March 10, IU will play No. 5 Occidental and No. 4 Redlands on March 10 at the same times as March 9, respectively. The invitational takes place in Pamona, Calif., and after a weekend off for the Hoosiers.

Junior attacker Shae Fournier said it will be nice to take a break from a brutal schedule to face some smaller schools.

“I think it will be good to put everything together and just have things work for us,” she said. “It’s hard working against good teams when we know we’re playing well but it’s just a tough match, so this will be good for us.”

IU Coach Barry King said the games March 9-10 will be a good opportunity to expand his players’ versatility.

“(We won’t try new) gimmicks, but we might try people in some new positions or things like that,” he said. “Just things that are a little bit outside of what they have been doing right now to see if we can expand their roles.”

The Hoosiers might be looking to play around with the lineup a little bit, but Fournier said she is confident her team won’t overlook any of the Division III schools.

“I’m not worried we will,” she said. “I know if we did, they could definitely upset us, so we just need to go and focus, but I think we’re pretty ready for that, so we’re excited for some games after a weekend off, and we’ll be ready to play.”

This will be the third year in a row IU and Redlands will face off. IU won the past two years by scores of 13-10 in 2011 and 14-7 in 2012. Overall, the Hoosiers are 7-0 against the Bulldogs, but junior attacker Meghan Lappan said the Bulldogs’ effort can make them dangerous.

“They’re one of those teams that’s gonna keep coming and coming,” she said. “They’re never gonna give up when we’re playing them, so just be ready to give as much heart as they do.”

This weekend will mark five games in a row in which IU has faced a Division III team.

The Hoosiers’ most recent 2013 contest was a 15-1 victory against Division III No. 10 Washington and Jefferson on Feb. 24.

King said the competition between Division I and Division III schools benefits both sides.

“We want contests in that those groups want to play us too, so it’s mutually beneficial,” he said. “We hope that we perform well, and we treat them equally the same. We want to hopefully be able to get better with each contest that we’re playing.

The end of the week is a bit more loaded as far as ranked teams go, so we’re hoping that these can kind of help us build and get better and get us ready for the end of the week.”

That end of the week includes the Lancer Invite on March 15 in Riverside, Calif., and the Aztec Invitational on March 16-17 in San Diego, Calif.

The Aztec Invitational will bring IU back to a tough schedule. All the Hoosiers’ opponents will be against Division I teams, and three will be against ranked teams — No. 7 San Diego State, No. 8 Hawaii and No. 15 Cal State Northridge.

King said this weekend’s play will help his squad prepare for the Division I teams.

“I think a lot of people will get a lot of time,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of opportunities to get sharper, to work on some things that maybe you don’t get as expressed in games against the ranked teams that tend to be a little bit more of grinds. Hopefully we’ll get a little bit more confidence in what we’re doing offensively.”

The team will not return to Bloomington between March 9-10 and March 16-17 since every match will be in California. During the sandwiched week, IU will practice in Las Vegas to stay sharp.

Lappan and Fournier both expressed enthusiasm about spending their spring break out west.

“Really excited,” Lappan said. “It’s nice to get away from the snow and get some new scenery, especially California, where a lot of these girls are from. Vegas, too.”

Fournier agreed.

“Definitely,” she said of looking forward to break. “It’s gonna be nice to get away from the snow, and we’ll just be doing what we want – playing water polo and being in the sun, so we’ll be happy.”

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