It took five sets in the third match, but IU Volleyball was able to dig out a 2-1 weekend at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge.
The trip to Muncie, Indiana, started with the team defeating North Dakota State in four sets Friday afternoon, then falling to Northern Iowa later that evening.
The team came back out Saturday to face off against in-state rival Ball State and battled through deficits to win in five sets.
“Ball State played with a lot of passion,” IU Coach Steve Aird said. “At times you play teams that are excited to play you, and they played really hard.”
A key part of IU’s success was sophomore Bayli Lebo.
The La Porte, Indiana, native had 20 or more digs in each match over the weekend, highlighted by a career-high 24 digs against Northern Iowa.
“She’s developing,” Aird said. “She’s letting herself be coached. To be blunt, she’s got a long way to go. She’s got another two or three gears in her.”
Throughout the season, the team has battled with inconsistency. The Hoosiers have frequently captured big leads and seen them slip away, or vise versa.
It is something the team will need to improve on before Big Ten Conference play begins.
“Consistency will be a thing we have to work on,” Aird said. “Just to recreate the skills over and over at a high level, the conference demands that you do that.”
As a team that plays in a strong conference, IU will have many opportunities to pull off upsets this season — something that Aird is very aware of.
“The good news is we’ll have a lot of opportunities to play teams that’ll be ranked ahead of us,” Aird said. “Our goal will be to become better and become more competitve.”
IU will take part in a tournament in Cincinnati next weekend before returning home Sept. 21 to take on Northwestern.
After three road tournaments, the Hoosiers are ready to come home.
“These kids are becoming battle-tested, we’re playing good teams on the road,” Aird said. “When that’s said and done, when we can get through our pre-conference stuff, we start to think about the madhouse that’s going to be U Gym and how we can make it a pretty good party.”
IU will face off against Cincinnati and Xavier on Friday before facing Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.
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