IU volleyball head coach Steve Aird doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to talking about how tough of a conference his Hoosier team competes in. It’s because of this, he says, that he wants his team to play a difficult nonconference schedule and prepare itself for the brutality of Big Ten play.
“We’re playing teams in the preseason that if we don’t play well, they’re going to beat us up,” Aird said. “We need to see that before we get into the Big Ten.”
IU’s nonconference schedule will begin this weekend at the Indiana Invitational, with four matches being played between Friday and Saturday at Wilkinson Hall.
The Hoosiers will face Florida International University at 12:30 p.m. and Marshall University at 8 p.m. Friday, before taking on University of Tennessee-Martin at 10 a.m. and Santa Clara University at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“The first four matches are difficult,” Aird said. “We’re trying to play better teams, and we’re unapologetic about playing some really good people.”
After having only two weeks of practice to prepare for regular season play, IU has nine new players whose roles have yet to be discovered.
“We’re still tinkering with lineups,” Aird said. “I think that’s going to happen for a while. I just hope we can have success while we do it.”
Kendall Beerman, a redshirt senior who has been working her way back from a torn ACL she suffered last season, is available to play, Aird said.
“We have access to everyone,” Aird said. “There are a couple of nicks and whatnot, but what I’m going to do is hopefully mix and match this weekend and get some different looks.”
Senior setter Victoria Brisack said she has never been more excited for a season of IU volleyball than this one. There is a new sense of depth to this team that she said hasn’t been felt in the past.
“Depth is great,” Brisack said. “You wouldn’t necessarily think it is because there’s more competition for playing time and more chances for jealousy, but we haven’t seen a lot of that. We take pride in our selflessness.”
With a fresh, new-look roster, the Hoosiers hope to bring with it a never-say-die attitude that makes them an “infuriating” opponent, Brisack said.
“Teams are going to think they’re going to come in and roll over us and that’s just not the case anymore,” freshman defensive specialist Haley Armstrong said. “We’re the underdogs and we have this chip on our shoulder. Our competition level is through the roof right now.”
This weekend’s slate of games will be the first four of seven home games to open up the season for the Hoosiers.
Next weekend, nonconference opponents Oregon State University, Oklahoma University and Yale University will make the trip to Bloomington. Yale and Oklahoma both had winning records in the 2018 season, with Yale going 19-5 and Oklahoma 17-11.
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