Victorious would certainly be one way to describe how this past weekend went for the Hoosier volleyball team, as the team won not one, not two, but all three matches at the Top Dawg Challenge in Indianapolis.
Indiana battled five tough sets last weekend against reigning MAC champions, Bowling Green Falcons, and they definitely gave the Hoosiers a run for their money. Although the women of Indiana volleyball pulled out a win, the Falcons gave the Hoosiers a little taste of what to expect from the all-mighty Big Ten, and what the team needs to do to survive the rest of the conference.
Junior middle blocker Kaley Rammelsberg had the chance to experience a Big Ten battle for the very first time, and the confidence she possessed during the match allowed her to lead the squad with eight kills while shifting the momentum of the game from Bowling Green back to Indiana when it came down to crunch time.
“It was my first tournament here, so it was really nice to get in the groove of things and actually play against someone else other than our team,” Rammelsberg said. “We’re still working out the kinks of everything, but I think we did a pretty good job this weekend and I am really excited to see what the rest of the season looks like.”
While “working out the kinks” does involve improving, the Hoosiers aren’t going to change their approach going into this weekend where they will face Western Michigan, Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Southeast Missouri State at the Discover Kalamazoo Classic, which begins Friday night.
Senior outside hitter Breana Edwards acknowledges that the matches in Indianapolis could’ve easily gone the other way, so using the same technique and plan of attack every week is going to be pivotal if they want to advance to postseason play.
“Anything that we do, we can always do better,” Edwards said. “The biggest thing that coach talks about is getting the one percent better every day. There were a couple sets in the Bowling Green game where we started out really strong then we sort of dipped off, so I think just playing more cohesive, more as a team, and finding a way to stay consistent through a whole game would be a great goal for this team.”
Aird reiterates that the Hoosiers will not alter their approach, regardless of who they play or what week it is. Keeping the energy consistent at times when it’s frantic or when the team’s down a little bit will be key if they want to stay on a persistent roll during a match.
As Edwards enters her fourth year in Bloomington, Rammelsberg is still adjusting to all the hysteria and zest surrounding Indiana athletics. While Wilkinson Hall has been Edwards’ home for some time now, new players like Rammelsberg have brought a fresh energy to Wilkinson and changed the course of Aird’s volleyball program.
“The change started this summer,” said Edwards. “We were in here every day getting better, and every day in the weight room we were pushing ourselves and working really hard, and that’s what started this season off on the right foot because we were all in shape and had put in the time, so we knew in our hearts what we could do. That was the biggest change I’ve seen in my four years here, and that flip this summer…it was really cool.”
Rammelsberg proved her valor in Indianapolis last weekend as she was named to the Top Dawg Challenge all-tournament team. She said Aird has pushed her to reach her full potential this offseason.
“I feel like he just really believes in me,” Rammelsberg said. “He focuses on what I’m supposed to do and has patience with me, I feel like that’s a big difference. He really wants me to get better and when I mess up, it’s not like he’s going to make me do sleds right away, he’s going to understand and work with me.”
Obviously, talent wins games, but this team’s passion and growing chemistry goes beyond the game, and can ultimately lead them to success.
“Every single person is a great human being,” Edwards said. “As you play more games together and you travel on the road, everyone gets closer, and that was one of the things I think our team was lacking last year. With COVID-19, we couldn’t really get that off-the-court chemistry as great as we have this year.”