The five freshmen are outside hitter Ally Badowski, setter Victoria Brisack, middle blocker Hayden Huybers, defensive specialist Meaghan Koors and middle blocker Deyshia Lofton.
To Dunbar-Kruzan, these women are more than just a replacement class, she said. They’re an influential group for the future of the program.
“The numbers, accolades and mentality they have combined make them an impact class,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “I couldn’t be more happy for them to come in.”
These five players bring a plethora of accolades with them to IU. As young players, they have gained All-American titles, won state championships, been given Player of the Year honors and taken the Amateur Athletic Union National Championship.
These accomplishments are typical in Big Ten recruits, though.
“I’d pay to watch them play,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “That’s how I judge recruits sometimes. When I see them there’s more than just athletic ability. These kids love Indiana, and they are so gung ho and goal-oriented already. This group wins all the time so that as a whole is an amazing combination.”
Together the newest players will enter the halls of University Gym with a combined record of 131-24.
Winning hasn’t been common territory for IU during its previous seasons. By adding a team that is used to winning at every possible level, Dunbar-Kruzan said she believes they will continue to achieve at the highest level.
The future freshmen had similar reasons as to why they wanted to become Hoosiers. The biggest difference between these freshmen and any other freshman is they have been chosen to compete in the toughest volleyball conference in the country, as five Big Ten teams are ranked top 10 in the country.
“I think all we know right now is volleyball,” Badowski said. “Volleyball is our life, and I think coming here and knowing what’s at stake and the hard work we need to put in is going to be a good mix with all of us here.”
Though IU isn’t the top team in the Big Ten, the future players don’t have any reservations about continuing to win games at the collegiate level.
When they step onto the court surrounded by flag representations of future opponents and banners of past achievements these recruits have one expectation next year: to win.
“I think it’s been awhile since IU has won how they would like to,” Brisack said. “I think it’s especially a goal for this class to get us to a Big Ten Championship and hopefully into some NCAA tournament appearances.”
With what might seem like an optimistic goal for a young team, these recruits have no doubt that they are skilled and prepared to take on any challenges that Big Ten play brings with it, Lofton said.
As for the current freshmen, defensive specialist Samantha Fogg and middle blocker Elizabeth Asdell have no reservations when it comes to their decision to play for IU.
Rather, these two freshmen describe their first year playing for the Hoosiers as life changing.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” Fogg said. “I definitely wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We just learn so much when we’re here and we get to meet a bunch of new people. The atmosphere at IU is perfect, and it’s kind of like a job, but it’s a fun job, so I can’t complain.”
Fogg and Asdell recall their recruiting processes to be similar to the current recruits where all it took for them was a visit to campus before they decided IU was the place they wanted to be.
As far as the idea of five new freshman coming onto the team next year, both players said they don’t think adding the new players will be difficult. Just different.
“I think it’s going to be a good different,” Asdell said. “The fact that we’ll be able to come closer together since we’re all younger and that we already know them pretty well so it will be a fun experience.”
Normally teams losing as many as five players is enough to harm a team’s communication, but Fogg and Asdell don’t predict that to be the most challenging aspect of adding five new freshmen to their team next year.
“Off the court this team is really easy to get used to,” Fogg said. “The freshmen are just going to have to get used to the level of play they’re going to have to play at. That was hard for all three of the freshman this year. It was just hard and different than high school so that’s going to be the biggest thing.”