IU avenged last year’s loss to Miami University of Ohio and swept Western Kentucky on Saturday to win 12 non-conference games for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
IU took an early 1-0 lead in both matches, winning the doubles point. IU used its typical doubles lineup with junior Natalie Whalen and freshman Olga Zavarotnaya at No. 1, junior Madison Appel and freshman Michelle McKamey at No. 2 and sophomore Caitlin Bernard and freshman Jelly Bozovic at No. 3.
The Hoosiers dominated both matches, beating Miami 6-1 and Western Kentucky 4-0. Despite the score, IU Coach Ramiro Azcui said this was not one of their better performances.
“I thought we played a little sluggish,” Azcui said. “We made plays when we needed to and I’m happy about the wins, but there is definitely some work we need to do in practice this week.”
Appel was the sole loss in IU’s match against Miami, and she struggled in both matches on the day.
“She wasn’t able to find her shots the way she normally is,” Azcui said. “Her style of play is so aggressive that if she doesn’t find her shot it can be a struggle for her to win.”
Azcui said he was surprised by her loss because she had a great week of practice. He said her ability to provide leadership to the team when it needed it, even though she was not having her best day, impressed him.
Bernard, senior Xiwei Cai, McKamey and Whalen went 2-0 in singles, beating their respective RedHawk and Hilltopper opponents.
Bernard and Whalen both saw action at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots while Cai played at the No. 4 spot. McKamey was at the No. 6 spot in the morning match and the No. 5 spot in the evening.
Azcui said he saw good production from Cai in the middle of the lineup, and when the top of the lineup lost, it was good to see the bottom of the lineup step up and win a point.
Bernard has a team best 13-2 singles record, and McKamey is second with an 11-3 record.
Going into her first collegiate season, McKamey said she knew she was capable of competing at a high level, and she is happy with how things have been progressing in practice each week because she had high expectations for herself going into the season.
McKamey said she hasn’t had as big of an adjustment to the tempo and style of college play as much as most players do coming out of high school.
“My coaches told me I have a good college-style game,” McKamey said. “I hit balls hard and flat. I am ready for this role, and I have a big serve and volley game that I try to use to win.”
Azcui said he has told his team to stay engaged all season long. With Big Ten play one week away, he said IU will need to stay focused on strong performances and trust what they have been doing the first half of the season.
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