As IU volleyball head coach Steve Aird enters his second year at the helm, he has related his experiences to those of head men’s basketball coach Archie Miller, who just finished up his second year at IU.
Aird mentioned how he watched Miller's press conference a year ago but now he knows how he feels.
“He said it was great to kind of know what's going on, where to go and have his feet underneath him," Aird said. "At the time I was insanely jealous because I felt like I was in a tornado of things going on. Now my kids are in school and we found a place to live. The staff and I have had a year under our belt. It feels like home.”
With year two about to begin, Aird is happy with the direction his program is headed, knowing that there is still plenty of room to improve.
“I think we crossed off a lot of the big rocks in the first 16 months,” Aird said. “We're in a position now where I feel pretty good about where we're at. I think we're a little ahead of where I thought we'd be in year two.”
While Aird and his entire staff will be the same as last season, the IU roster brings with it a lot of new faces. Nine new players will join the team along with nine returning players from last year’s team, which finished 16-15 overall and 7-13 in conference. The 16 wins were four better than the 2017 win total.
Among the returning players is fifth-year senior Kendall Beerman, an outside hitter whose 2018 season was cut short due to an ACL tear. An official timetable for Beerman’s return has not yet been decided.
“She says she feels great,” Aird said. “She's been participating in camp. It's just one of those things that you don't want to rush.”
As for the newcomers, Aird pointed out freshmen Emily Fitzner and Haley Armstrong as two players ready to play for his team.
Fitzner, a setter from San Diego, was committed to the University of Southern California until a coaching change switched her mind. As for Armstrong, she’ll look to help IU as a defensive specialist.
“Those are two freshmen kids with elite skill sets that are going to play a lot,” Aird said.
2019 will mark the first full IU volleyball season to be played in Wilkinson Hall, which opened in January. The new 3,000-seat facility will also play host to IU’s wrestling program.
Aird certainly believes the new building has and will continue to have an enormous influence on the IU program.
“I think the first thing you notice when you come into this building is that it's impressive,” Aird said. “It's got Olympic-style courts. The lighting is great. As a student-athlete you get excited every day to come to the building.”
IU’s season kicks off Aug. 30, where the team will play a double header against Florida International University and the University of Tennessee Martin. Both games will take place at Wilkinson Hall.
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