IU opens the 2016 season at home this weekend with the Indiana Invitational tournament. The Hoosiers will face Northern Kentucky, Evansville and Marshall.
“We are looking to attack right from the start,” senior outside hitter Mallory Waggoner said. “We have a really good identity this year, and we are looking to show it. No matter who we are playing, we are going to go out and play with our speed, which is what we are really focused on. We are very precise in our movements, and we are playing really clean volleyball.”
Last season the Hoosiers finished second in the Big Ten in aces-per-set with 1.32, and they strive to surpass that this year. IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said she is confident her team will do so.
Dunbar-Kruzan said she believes freshmen Kendall Beerman and Meaghan Koors will be able to challenge last year’s Hoosiers with the most aces-per-set, seniors Allison Hammond and Taylor Lebo, for the title this season.
“Beerman has got a pretty heavy jump-top, and Meaghan Koors has a line-drive serve that I’m really excited about,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “Our serving game has always been one of the best in the Big Ten, and we approach it like that. We say we are going to attack from the endline because we need to make it easier on our block defense. It’s a must for us, and it’s something we embrace. The freshmen come in and know that so they take some extra time and really work on serving a lot. It’s a pride thing now.”
According to Waggoner, the team’s seven new players — five true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and one transfer — have bought into the team’s mentality and will have positive impacts this season.
“A lot of our freshmen came in over the summer, which gave us a little more time to get to know them, and they are honestly amazing,” Waggoner said. “All of the work that we have put in in the spring, over the summer and on our own gives me a lot of confidence. We have done a really good job of refining our techniques and getting really good at swinging and blocking and especially our defense.”
Dunbar-Kruzan said she is adamant about the importance of preparing for Big Ten and non-conference opponents the same way. Regardless if it’s a non-conference opponent or Big Ten team, she said wants her team to focus on winning and reaching the NCAA Tournament.
The 10th-year coach stresses that every match is their Super Bowl and that there is no small victory.
“Somebody is going to lose this weekend and get majorly upset because they overlooked teams, and it’s not going to be us,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “I told the team, ‘That team on the other side has no name on it. That is the team we have to beat.’”