Fresh off a 3-1 start to the season, IU returns to the court this weekend for three more home matches at Wilkinson Hall. After what IU head coach Steve Aird has called a “hard but good” week of practice, the team is ready to get back in action.
“We’re excited to get back into matches,” Aird said. “For the opening weekend, you’d like to get four wins, but 3-1 is a solid start, especially with a new group.”
In its opening weekend, IU picked up wins against Florida International University, Marshall University and the University of Tennessee at Martin, while losing its final match of the weekend in straight sets to Santa Clara University.
In those four matches, Aird was not shy about throwing in a different set of lineups, as he tested four different ones on the weekend. With conference play in the Big Ten inching closer, the Hoosiers are starting to pick things up.
IU’s weekend will begin with a double-header Friday against Oregon State University (2-0) at 10 a.m. and Oklahoma University (1-2) at 7 p.m. The weekend will wrap up at 1 p.m. Sunday against Yale University, who has won back-to-back Ivy League Conference titles but has yet to play a regular season match.
“This weekend we have three really good teams coming out,” sophomore outside hitter Breanna Edwards said. “We know that we have to show up each set to come out with a win.”
Senior outside hitter Kendall Beerman appeared in two of the four matches last weekend, but it's unclear how much she will play this weekend. She continues to ease her way back into competitive volleyball on her way back from injury.
As nonconference play rolls on, Aird wants his team to try to stack up as many wins as it can before conference play comes along.
“Our goal in the preseason is to try to win more than we lose and try to get around 8-10 wins,” Aird said. “That gives us a shot going into the conference. Obviously, this is a huge weekend to try and improve on that and get a few wins in the bank.”
As IU prepares for the second weekend of matches, the program continues to put an emphasis on improving the atmosphere of home matches. Aird believes it goes hand-in-hand with the rebuilding of the program.
“We need this place full so it becomes a really hard place to play,” Aird said. “If we’re bringing in name programs, the fans and the atmosphere make a big difference. The opening weekend crowds were good, but I think they can become great. That’s something I’m hopeful takes another step.”
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