The IU volleyball team got off to a fast start against Marshall University on Aug. 30, winning seven of the first eight points of the match. The energy of the crowd at Wilkinson Hall was building, and it was about to get louder.
After taking a pass from freshman Haley Armstrong, senior outside hitter Kendall Beerman swooped in and banged home IU’s eighth point of the match, giving the team a commanding lead. It was Beerman’s first kill back from a second torn ACL that cut her 2018 season short.
“I’m just really proud of her,” head coach Steve Aird said following the match against Marshall. “She worked so hard being through two knee injuries, and she’s a special kid to me. My heart is happy for her.”
Considered one of the worst injuries in sports, battling through two ACL tears has not been easy for Beerman. That made for a whirlwind of feelings for the IU volleyball veteran during her return.
“It was pretty emotional,” she said of her first match back. “It’s been a long road coming back. I was fearless, and I fed off the rest of the team.”
As Beerman is easing her way back into competitive action, she will look to add on to what already is a storied IU volleyball career.
After redshirting her freshman season, the Lexington, Kentucky, native has been a force for IU, totaling 701 kills in the 72 matches she’s played as a Hoosier.
Beerman’s best season came in 2017 as a redshirt sophomore, where she tallied 277 kills. Last season she was on pace to eclipse that number before her injury. She had already racked up 179 kills in the 14 matches she played in.
Now Beerman said she is focusing on being herself and playing the way she knows she can for her last season as a Hoosier.
“Before the game I was like, ‘just go do your thing. Nothing is different. Just be Kendall Beerman,’” she said after the Marshall game.
As she continues to progress this season, Beerman has the backing of her head coach, who knows how long of a road it has been for her.
“Every week that goes by, Kendall will be better and better,” Aird said. “Ten months off is a long time. She didn’t start really practicing until halfway through preseason, so she’s only a couple weeks in.”
So far in 2019, Beerman has appeared in two of IU’s four regular season matches. Aird said he certainly sees a difference in his team when she’s out on the court competing.
“Kendall’s a kid who’s got real arm talent and can help the program,” Aird said. “There’s parts of her game that will come back in time.”
With three more home matches coming this weekend, there is the potential for plenty of Beerman kills that light up Wilkinson Hall.
A double-header Friday for IU may mean that Beerman rests one of the matches, but depending on how she feels, she may appear in both, Aird said.
“I’m just happy to see her back,” Aird said. “She’s tough and she’s fearless. She’ll develop, and it’ll keep coming.”