Three was the magic number for the start of the Steve Aird era at IU.
The new IU volleyball coach led his team to three wins at the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas while having three players named to the All-Tournament Team.
However, despite the success, Aird’s message of continuing to rebuild stands strong.
“The reality of what we’re going to get into in the next few weeks and during the season is it’s a spring to try to get better,” Aird said. “We can play the right way for stretches, and then it goes south. We’re going to have to be a lot more consistent in order to have real success during the year.”
IU started the invitational by defeating UNLV and Long Island University Brooklyn 3-1 Friday, then backed that up with a 3-0 victory against Southern Utah on Saturday afternoon.
The weekend also gave IU an opportunity for freshmen to step up and get their first career game action.
Three freshmen were in IU’s starting lineup.
“When you do stuff like that, you expose yourself to some growing pains,” Aird said. “I thought all three of them developed as the weekend went on. They’re going to be asked to do a lot, which is maybe more than what they’re ready to do, but it’s the reality of where we are. I don’t need people who are scared of opportunity, I want people who are excited about opportunities.”
Among those freshmen is setter Abigail Westenhofer, who was on the Under Armour All-American Second Team.
Westenhofer picked up 51 assists over the course of playing nine sets.
However, Aird said he is looking for her to become more of a leader as a setter.
“Her high school and club team prepared her well,” Aird said. “She knows what she’s supposed to do. I’d like her to be a little more vocal. In that position, you’ve got to be able to take control of the team.”
Upperclassmen were also able to contribute in a big way, highlighted by junior Kendall Beerman being named most valuable player in the invitational.
“She’s got a big-time arm, and she’s got a great feel for the game,” Aird said. “If she gets really serious about developing and being mature about her game, she’s going to be a really nice player. She had a really good weekend, and a really mature weekend. She’s learning, and that’s exciting.”
Junior Deyshia Lofton and sophomore Bayli Lebo also stepped up for the team, joining Beerman on the All-Tournament Team in the process.
Next up for the Hoosiers will be games against Texas A&M and Temple on Friday and Saturday in State College, Pennsylvania.
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