IU volleyball is off to a 3-1 start this season after the Indiana Invitational over the weekend. The Hoosiers won their matches against Florida International University, Marshall University and the University of Tennessee-Martin but dropped their final match against Santa Clara University.
“I’m pleased with the fact that we won more than we lost,” IU head coach Steve Aird said. “You want to win every match that you play, but that’s not going to be a reality for this squad.”
In IU’s three victories, it only dropped two total sets. However, the Hoosiers lost in straight sets to Santa Clara on Saturday night, despite not losing any of the three sets by more than three points.
“I tip my cap to Santa Clara,” Aird said. “That’s a really good volleyball team. They served the ball well, and we just struggled with the first touch.”
Saturday night’s match against Marshall marked the return of senior Kendall Beerman, an outside hitter who suffered a torn ACL last season for IU. She tallied a team-high 17 kills in her return to action and added 10 kills against Santa Clara. Beerman did not play in the other two matches.
“It was pretty emotional,” Beerman said regarding her return to the court. “It’s been a long road coming back,and I’m really happy that I came out with a bang like that.”
Sophomore Breanna Edwards, another outside hitter, had a dominant weekend for IU with 67 total kills. Her best outing came in the season opener against Florida International, where she hammered home 24 kills.
Setter Emily Fitzner and defensive specialist Haley Armstrong were two freshmen that saw plenty of playing time in their first four college matches. Fitzner assisted on 71 points for the weekend, while Armstrong showed her defensive ability with 65 digs.
“There were flashes of what everyone expects of them and then flashes of young,” Aird said. “They’ll get in the film room,and they’ll get on the court. They’re really good kids, they work really hard and they’ll get some stuff fixed.
IU’s four weekend matches marked its first regular season matches in Wilkinson Hall, the new 3,000-seat facility that opened in January.
“It’s got the potential to be one of the coolest places in the country to play,” Aird said. “It’s our responsibility to keep getting it better, but this is going to be as good as it gets in terms of a place to play.”
IU will be back in action next Friday, when they play Oregon State University and Oklahoma University for a double-header at Wilkinson Hall. Oregon State will enter the weekend at 2-0, while Oklahoma is 1-2.
“We’ve got to get back in the gym and work hard,” Aird said. “Next weekend is a challenge, there are some good teams coming in here.”
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