Volleyball claims pair of weekend matches
IU coach Sherry Dunbar said home victories are important in the Big Ten because a lot of teams have been losing on the road.
IU volleyball (17-5, 5-5) proved it could defend its home court as the team defeated No. 13 Michigan and Michigan State this weekend.
“We came out on fire, and in our home environment we have to win because it’s tough to win on the road in the Big Ten,” senior middle blocker Taylor Wittmer said.
After the Hoosiers lost their first four Big Ten matches, they went 5-1 in their next six games.
In the Friday match, the Hoosiers swept the Wolverines, 25-16, 25-15 and 25-21.
The Wolverines were tied for first in the Big Ten coming into Friday.
Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Haverly led all players with 14 kills.
Defensively, the Hoosiers earned 12 total blocks to the Wolverines’ two.
“We really focused on our team defense from the front to our back row,” Dunbar said.
Freshman defensive specialist Caitlin Hansen added that the team’s defensive approach was effective.
“We were flowing to the ball on defense, which made tough plays look easy,” Hansen said.
Wittmer and junior setter Mary Chaudoin each had six assisted blocks in the match.
The plan was to stop outside hitter Alex Hunt of Michigan, the Big Ten’s kills leader. The Hoosiers held Hunt to eight kills.
“I thought we really did a good job in practice talking about Alex Hunt, the lefty on the outside and setter Lexi Zimmerman,” Dunbar said.
Wittmer agreed about the defense around Hunt.
“We came out and formed a great block around her,” Wittmer said. “I think we did a great job containing her.”
In Saturday’s match, IU bested the Spartans in five sets, winning 25-17, 18-25, 22-25, 25-23 and 15-13.
Senior middle blocker Ashley Benson recorded 19 kills, nine blocks and a .545 hitting efficiency on the match.
Haverly topped Benson with 22 kills of her own. The two Hoosiers combined for 41 of IU’s 64 kills.
The last set went back and forth between the two teams before Haverly ended the
match with her 22nd kill.
The Hoosiers have already matched their season victory total from last year with 10 matches to go in 2010.
After their two wins this weekend, the Hoosiers have moved into a four-way tie for fourth place in the Big Ten.
Dunbar said the team is playing well at the right time.
“To see us playing some of our best volleyball now at the end of the first round of Big Ten play is great,” Dunbar said.
However, Wittmer said the Hoosiers can’t let up after their recent success.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, but we are not satisfied,” Wittmer said. “We know we have to be confident and still wanting more.”
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