IU volleyball may not have qualified for the NCAA Tournament, but the team made strides that could pay dividends for the future success of the program.
The Hoosiers finished 17-16 overall, their first season above .500 since 2010, when they went 23-12.
“We’re not where we want to be and we understand that, but we are moving in the right direction,” IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said.
As a team, IU recorded a .239 hitting percentage, its best mark since 1995. Senior middle blocker Jazzmine McDonald led the Hoosiers with a .364 clip, the second best hitting percentage in IU volleyball history and fourth best in the Big Ten this season, en route to an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
She is the first IU volleyball player to receive an All-Big Ten honor since 2010.
“It makes me so happy that Jazzmine understands the magnitude of getting any honor in our conference, the best conference in the country,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “A lot of really good players got left off and for the Big Ten to honor her because of what she put out on the court is really important. It’s not just important to her, it’s important to our program.”
Freshman outside hitter Kendall Beerman finished second among Big Ten freshmen in hitting percentage and fifth in kills. She became the first Hoosier since 2014 to win a Big Ten weekly award when she earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week Honors on Oct. 31.
IU got off to a hot start this season during its non-conference schedule and achieved the fourth 9-0 start in program history, thrusting the team to the 34th in RPI.
The Hoosiers were the second best serving team in the Big Ten in 2016 with 172 aces, IU’s most since 2002, at a rate of 1.51 aces per set. Three Hoosier seniors, co-captain and libero Taylor Lebo, outside hitter Allison Hammond and co-captain and setter Megan Tallman, finished in the top 10 in the conference in aces at sixth, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Lebo and Tallman both set program records this season. Lebo became IU’s all-time leader in career aces in the rally-scoring era with 130, and Tallman became the school’s all-time leader in assists in the rally-scoring era with 3,711.
“The seniors became so selfless this year to help the team and worried about how to make the program better and move the culture forward,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “That class has big personalities, and we’ll have to look to fill those shoes to complement where we want to go.”
IU upset two ranked opponents in Bloomington this season, defeating then-No. 13 Michigan and then-No. 22 Ohio State.
IU collected 21 blocks in its win over Michigan, its most in any match since 2006. McDonald starred for the Hoosiers in this one, tallying 15 kills on a .700 hitting percentage and 10 blocks to complete her first career double-double. In the victory over Ohio State, McDonald notched 13 kills and hit .667.
Dunbar-Kruzan won her 250th career match and 150th match at IU during the season, and will head into 2017 with 263 career wins as a head coach.
“When you are as close as we were to making the NCAA Tournament, the kids are already back in the weight room doing things,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “They feel it and they know we are making strides. They know they have to do more but there is a good attitude. We want to actually continue to get better.”