volleyball

IU volleyball prepares for final nonconference weekend



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Junior Bayli Lebo celebrates a point against Yale University on Sept. 8 at Wilkinson Hall. This weekend the volleyball team will travel to Tampa Bay, Florida, for matches against Stetson University and University of South Florida. Joy Burton Buy Photos

Following a 3-0 weekend that included a win over ranked University of Kentucky, IU remains all about business and not at all about celebration. With conference play yet to have started, the Hoosiers know there is no time for celebration with so many tough matches awaiting.

“We had a fantastic win against an exceptional opponent at Kentucky,” IU head coach Steve Aird said. “If you’re beating Kentucky in week 15 or 16 of the season, it’s a whole different celebratory experience than beating them in week three.”

As a result of IU’s upset win, it received 13 votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. If the Hoosiers are able to secure a spot in the top 25, it would be their first time since 2010.

This weekend, the team will will revisit the south, this time to Tampa Bay, Florida, for matches against Stetson University and University of South Florida.

Stetson enters at 2-5 on the season, while South Florida is 3-6 in a schedule that included a four-set loss to No. 11 University of Florida.

“We’re a week away from the Big Ten, but we’re playing opponents that have good teams,” Aird said. “We’ve spent the whole week worrying about Stetson, but I know South Florida went four with Florida and went five with Long Beach (State University). It’s a team that’s real, and they do a lot of really good stuff.”

As the Hoosiers move closer to their first Big Ten match Sept. 27, they hope to get some players back from injury. Freshman Haley Armstrong and senior Megan Sloan both have chances to be available this weekend, Aird said. Armstrong has been dealing with an upper body injury and Sloan with a lower body injury.

While dealing with injuries, IU has relied on this year’s newfound depth and veteran leadership, Aird said. Different players have stepped into big roles when necessary, such as senior Hayden Huybers, who provided valuable playing time this weekend after only appearing in two prior matches.

“Just watching the game motivates me,” Huybers said. “Keeping the right mindset helps me a lot.”

With only a few nonconference games remaining, the team is happy with its current position, Aird said. However, Aird expects his team to take it up a notch come conference play.

“I think we’ve got a whole other gear when we get real healthy,” Aird said. “The best version of us — we haven’t presented yet. In time, it will come.”

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