After dropping its first match of the Hoosier Classic on Saturday to Arkansas State, IU rebounded well from its two-match losing skid and won six consecutive sets on Saturday to complete sweeps against IU-Purdue University Indianapolis and Cleveland State.
“We set up this tournament knowing it was going to be very challenging, and we didn’t follow the game plan Friday night, and the girls were really bummed in the locker room,” IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said. “I’m most proud of them for bouncing back and winning the first match Saturday in three sets then focusing on how to beat Cleveland State who was 9-1 coming in.”
The Hoosiers were led to victory in the final match of the Hoosier Classic by tournament most valuable player Megan Tallman.
The senior setter and co-captain contributed 45 assists in the win against Cleveland State.
“We had a different intensity this weekend,” Tallman said. “This team is young, and for us to be able to bounce back at our own place on a long weekend is a great thing to see.”
Dunbar-Kruzan said she is proud of her team for battling back from last weekend’s lackluster performance and for turning it around, as she said she believes they had their best serving weekend yet.
IU was aided in its win against Cleveland State, which defeated the Hoosiers last season, by a .400 hitting percentage with 49 kills and only nine errors on 100 attempts.
Seniors other than Tallman also played a large role for the Hoosiers. Outside hitter Allison Hammond tallied 17 kills and nine digs, libero Taylor Lebo added 11 digs and a perfect .1000 hitting percentage, and middle blocker Jazzmine McDonald hit .875 to go along with three blocks.
“It was most important that we got back to playing the type of volleyball that we are capable of playing before we start Big Ten season on Wednesday,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We need that confidence going into conference play, and we’re going to have to win rallies because it’s going to be tough.”
The veteran coach said she is more than pleased to have added depth on this season’s roster and she was able to utilize it in this weekend’s slate of games.
Dunbar-Kruzan specifically raved about junior outside hitter Jessica Leish, whose number got called to replace the struggling freshman Kendall Beerman.
“I liked how Jessica Leish stepped up,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “She hasn’t played a lot this season and it was nice to use our depth that we didn’t have last year. It’s nice to see some people step into roles for us and be productive.”
Dunbar-Kruzan correctly warned her team about Arkansas State, as IU fell short Friday night three sets to one.
Tallman was curious to see what her teammates’ attitudes would be for an early Saturday match after a late Friday loss.
“This team continues to surprise me and shock me in amazing ways every single day,” Tallman said. “I should get rid of that worry because there is never a reason for it. We are hungry. There is a fight in this team that is different from any IU team that I’ve been on.”