For the fourth consecutive season, the title of the Indiana Invitational champion belongs to IU as the Hoosiers breezed through the weekend and racked up three victories.
The IU volleyball team accrued nine set wins and just one set loss in the three-match sweep of Northern Kentucky, Evansville and Marshall.
“We got three wins out of it, we learned a lot and we’ve got things to work on in practice now for this next week until we leave for California,” IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said. “In the preseason, everybody is going to give you their best. They are playing a Big Ten team, and if they beat a Big Ten team, that’s their Super Bowl, so we’ve got to live like this is our Super Bowl every time we step on.”
Freshman outside hitter and tournament most valuable player Kendall Beerman said she believes playing tough matches is beneficial and healthy for any team.
“You need to be pushed,” Beerman said. “We are going to be pushed all throughout the Big Ten season. Marshall pushed us, and we needed that, and the fact that we were so resilient towards it was really good, and that’s a really good, positive thing for us.”
The lone set loss came at the hands of the Marshall in the second set of IU’s final match of the tournament. Dunbar-Kruzan addressed her team directly after they fell eight points short at 25-17 and urged her players not to play conservatively.
“As a whole,” Dunbar-Kruzan said, “our serving and passing didn’t hold up as well as we wanted it to over a sustained period of time, and that usually is a plus for us.”
However, senior defensive specialist and team co-captain Taylor Lebo became just the 17th player in IU history to accumulate 100 service aces as she contributed five in the match against Marshall.
“She’s just a fireball,” Beerman said. “Her energy is through the roof. I’ve never played with somebody with more passion than she has. She’s just awesome to be on the court with and she brings you up and you always know that she is going to be the biggest loudmouth out there.”
Beerman earned tournament MVP honors after collecting 34 kills in the three matches, including 12 in the final match against Marshall to go along with seven digs.
While she said she feels honored to receive the notation, Beerman denied complete responsibility for the victories and gave the credit to her teammates.
“We played so well as a team, and this chemistry is nothing like I’ve ever played with before,” Beerman said. “We’re really mature about how we respond to things. The coaches are really good about getting our minds right, and our captains do a great job about talking to us. We knew what we had to do and we came out and did it.”
IU will take their 3-0 record across the country next weekend for their next four matches at the San Francisco Invitational beginning Sept. 2.