The reason IU volleyball scheduled its team's opening 11 games on the road had nothing to do with getting away from Bloomington — even if spending the opening three games in Las Vegas does seem appealing.
Instead, it was made with the intention to give more time to finish the Hoosiers' new home.
IU's new volleyball and wrestling stadium Wilkinson Hall will be opened for game action two months later than expected.
“We were going to be on the road for the first four weeks with the hope that we come back with the facilities close to ready to go,” IU volleyball coach Steve Aird said. “Whether that happens or not, that’s out of our hands. That’s construction.”
The home-opener on Sept. 21 against Northwestern will be played at University Gym — the same home of the team since 1996. Hopes still remain for the stadium to be opened in time for the last game of the regular season on Nov. 21 against Purdue.
Despite not having home-court advantage, Aird believes there are benefits to playing on the road for a long stretch.
“The cool thing about being on the road is that you get time together as a team,” Aird said. “You get to get into some habits of how you do stuff with less distractions. I think we’ll grow a lot in the first four weeks.”
In the Big Ten preseason poll, the team was ranked at No. 12 in the conference, one spot higher than it finished last year. Playing in a conference that had six teams reach the round of 16 last season, it will not be an easy path to the top for IU.
IU started last season going 11-1 in non-conference play before going 1-19 in the Big Ten.
So, Aird decided to strengthen the level of non-conference play before the season to prepare the team more for conference play.
“We’ll also have a really tough schedule,” Aird said. “We’ll be the underdog in a lot of the matches that we play. We’ve got to learn how to get better.”
The team will still play its scheduled intrasquad Cream and Crimson scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
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