Indiana volleyball will face Western Christian University, North Carolina State University and Texas Christian University this weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Hoosiers enter their third week of the season with a 4-2 record. Indiana has gone 2-1 in both tournaments so far, enabling this week’s to be the first possible outing to achieve a clean sweep. Here are three things to watch for as the Hoosiers compete against three different teams at the William Neal Reynolds Coliseum.
Volleyball has a strong emphasis on collaboration with others, and it is vital for the Hoosiers to compete as a team to maximize their chances of winning sets. Indiana recognizes the importance of teamwork, sophomore setter Camryn Haworth said at the Indiana Invitational press conference.
“We are still working on gelling — getting everybody to play for each other,” Haworth said. “I think that is probably going to be the key to our season.”
Last weekend at the Islanders Classic, Indiana lost to Southern Methodist University in three sets, with only two Hoosiers scoring seven or more points. Sophomore outside hitter Maddy Saris collected 12 kills while the second highest kills was a three-way tie of four kills from sophomore setter Camryn Haworth, junior middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede and junior outside hitter Morgan Geddes.
However, Indiana volleyball beat Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi three sets to none on Sept. 3. There were six Hoosiers with seven or more points, highlighted by Saris’ 12 points. Additionally, there were three players with seven or more kills, compared to the only one in the SMU game.
So far this season, the Hoosiers have found success when multiple teammates are involved offensively.
In volleyball, it’s common for the opponent to find its momentum and score in batches, so it can be extremely challenging to interrupt a team’s rhythm. Indiana faced this firsthand in its matchup with SMU. Against the Mustangs, the Hoosiers allowed two 3-0 runs at the end of the second set, the second of which led to the Mustangs winning the set.
Two of the teams Indiana will face this weekend will likely attract big crowds of opposing fanbases. It is vital for Indiana not to feel threatened by the opposing crowds, but motivated to win on someone else’s home court.
The first team Indiana will face this week is Western Carolina. The Catamounts hold a 5-2 record, including an impressive five set win over Wake Forest University. Fifth-year outside hitter Merry Gebel leads the teams with 78 kills so far this season.
Thursday evening, Indiana will play N.C. State in the Wolfpack’s home arena. It is head coach Luka Slabe's third season with N.C. State, and he currently holds a 20-15 record with the team. In terms of personnel, freshman outside hitter Ava Brizard won Atlantic Coastal Conference freshman of the week in honor of an impressive performance in the N.C. State Classic.
Texas Christian University will be the Hoosiers’ final challenge of the week. While the Horned Frogs only have a record of 1-4, they have competed against two top-five teams — no. 6 University of Wisconsin-Madison and no. 3 University of Minnesota. Senior outside hitter Julia Adams is an active contributor to the team with a cumulative 67 kills for this season.
Indiana will need to play as a united, focused and motivated team to have a successful East Coast road trip.