This season, much of IU volleyball’s focus has been about “starting on time,” a phrase preached by IU head coach Steve Aird to try to get his team off to a quick start at the beginnings of matches.
On Sunday’s match against Yale University, Aird’s words couldn't have been more apparent. Fresh off a five-set match against Oklahoma University, IU dropped the first set to Yale and looked “sluggish” doing so, according to Aird.
“We weren’t real crisp with the ball and they [Yale] played well,” Aird said. “When you lose a match like we did Friday night, a five-gamer that could’ve gone either way, you have to be resilient and be able to prepare the right way.”
After the first set, the Hoosiers turned the tide, winning the final three sets by a combined 30 points and capturing the win.
Junior Deyshia Lofton was dominant both offensively and defensively, totaling 17 kills and seven blocks as a middle blocker for the Hoosiers. The Plainfield, Illinois native also had .654 hitting percentage on the afternoon.
“The only reason that I put up the numbers that I put up is because of my team and its setting and passing,” Lofton said. “Collectively, I think that was our best game.”
Sophomore outside hitter Breana Edwards matched Lofton with 17 kills, while having a .324 hitting percentage. Edwards leads all Hoosiers with 105 kills on the season.
Seniors Megan Sloan and Jacqui Armer also played a large part in defending the net for IU. Sloan notched five blocks, and Armer added three for the Hoosiers.
Freshman libero Haley Armstrong did not play in the match due to an upper body injury that kept her out of the final two sets against Oklahoma on Friday night. Aird has no update on her status as of now.
In Armstrong’s place was junior Bayli Lebo, who is no stranger to the libero position. Lebo set the single season dig record for IU a year ago and dug 13 balls against Yale in place of Armstrong.
“It’s a luxury to have a couple players to play the position and do it that well,” Aird said. “She’s a good player. She’s going to have a great career and she’s done what we’ve asked her to do.”
After playing its first seven matches at home, IU will be away from Bloomington for its next eight matches. Its next home match won’t be until Oct. 3, when the University of Illinois comes to Bloomington for a conference matchup.
The Hoosiers will play three matches next weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. against Cleveland State University, the University of Kentucky and Stetson University as a part of their non-conference schedule.
Friday night’s match against Kentucky should prove to be a test for IU. Aird believes that the Wildcats are a Final Four caliber team and one that could win the Southeastern Conference.
“Next weekend is a huge challenge,” Aird said. “We’ll learn about our squad. We’ve got to address what system we want to be in and who’s going to play what position.”