Sweat poured onto the University Gym floor as players gave it their all, diving on nearly each play.
The intensity of IU Volleyball under Coach Steve Aird was evident as the team prepared for the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge this Friday.
Despite the effort and intensity shown during practice, one simple word was repeated afterwards: truth.
“The thing he always says is he’ll tell the truth, but the truth hurts,” junior Kendall Beerman said. “You don’t want to hear what he has to say sometimes, but it’s always good. He means well, and we know he wants the best for us.”
Beerman said the truth can be big in helping freshmen get comfortable with the collegiate level of play.
Playing at IU is not the first dose of exposure to college ball for Beerman, as her parents were both former volleyball players at Ball State.
She will now be going to her parents’ alma mater where the team will face North Dakota State and Northern Iowa on Friday before taking on Ball State on Saturday.
“Playing an in-state rival is always fun,” Beerman said. “I have a lot of respect for that team. The fans are always crazy.”
Beerman leads the team in kills this season, but right under her is freshman Breana Edwards.
Edwards came to IU from Rainier, Oregon, after being named PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace and a MaxPreps All-American.
Despite the success, however, playing at this level has been a tough process for her.
“It’s a whole other level,” Edwards said. “My first match against UNLV, it really hit me and you just have to adjust quick and bounce back.”
Edwards was able to bounce back in her second weekend with the team, playing at the Penn State Invitational, where she was named to the All-Tournament team.
She credits a lot of her development to the upperclassmen, particularly Beerman as both play the outside hitter position.
“They’re very supportive, and if I need help with anything, they explain how it work,” Edwards said. “Kendall’s talking a lot — they’re just helping me out in any way they can.”
The theme of development and being honest with each other fits right along with the rebuild that Aird has been pushing.
Aird stressed that despite being a competitor, he is also a realist and does not want his team being upset because of unrealistic expectations.
“You’re trying to teach everyone how this thing works,” Aird said. “It’s a lot of teaching, a lot of time.”
After a year where the team went 12-20 overall and 1-19 in Big Ten Conference play, Aird wants his team to play with less fear.
“I’m urging them to be more competitive, to not be afraid to lose,” Aird said. “We’re coming of a 1-19 season, why would we be worried about losing. We should be playing free and having fun.”
Even with a 4-1 record, Aird was honest about what he feels he has seen from the team this season.
“We have no depth,” Aird said. “We have very limited subs, we’ve been dealing with injuries, we’re young. The flipside of it is that everyone matters. Everyone has to be able to play and compete.”
The theme of getting 1 percent better will continued to be stressed each day for the team, and the next step is this weekend.
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