Indiana volleyball started the season off 3-0 after the conclusion of the annual Indiana Invitational.
The first match of the invitational was on Friday night against New Hampshire. The Hoosiers defeated the Wildcats 25-20 for the first set. Though the Wildcats scored the first point of the evening, the Hoosiers converted on 16 kills in the opening set. Indiana junior setter Camryn Haworth had four service aces to help facilitate the offense.
Indiana won the second set 25-18. Kills by New Hampshire junior outside hitter Ezgi Karabulut and junior right side hitter Marisa Armer goes gave the team a 3-0 lead early. The Hoosiers went on a 7-1 run behind a strong run of serves from senior middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede. The Hoosiers were able to extend the lead as far as eight points until Armer recorded three kills during a 9-3 run that trimmed the deficit to 20-17. Indiana was able to hold out to go up 2-0 on the night.
The third set started in a dominating fashion with Kjolhede serving seven straight points to open the set. Three kills from Indiana graduate student middle blocker Kaley Rammelsburg would later extend the lead to 15-7. While Indiana’s offense was creating opportunities to score, New Hampshire hit -.294 in the final frame which disallowed a possibility of a late comeback.
“I thought it was a very strange match,” Indiana volleyball head coach Steve Aird said on Friday night. “There wasn’t any rhythm to it. However, it’s clear to me that this team can serve.”
The second match of the series was against Southern Indiana. The Hoosiers took the first set 25-16. IU up 6-5, the Hoosiers tallied eight of the next 10 points to extend their lead to 13-7. Despite responding with a pair of points, the Screaming Eagles watched the Hoosiers score five straight points to go up by 10 points. Haworth had 10 assists in the frame with junior outside hitter Mady Saris producing five kills and Geddes four enroute to a first-set victory.
The third match was the closest of the night in terms of the box score with Indiana winning 25-18, Indiana had full control of the game. Haworth served the first eight balls of the set as the Hoosiers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. That rally included kills from Saris, senior outside hitter Morgan Geddes and sophomore opposite/middle blocker Ava Vickers.
Indiana wrapped up its weekend with a match against Radford. The team cruised through the first game 25-5. The five points was the lowest amount allowed since 2008. Radford had one kill compared to eight errors in the first set which gave Indiana momentum to capitalize as points.
The Hoosiers hit a collective .500 as a team, which matched the single-game program record in the rally era. That last time this was done by the program was 2016.
“I have a lot of respect for Sherisa (Livingston), the head coach at Radford,” Aird said. “One of the best players in the Big Ten for a long time, played professionally and is someone who I have a ton of respect for.”
Livingston is the current head coach of the Radford Highlanders and played for Wisconsin from 1998-2001. She is the Badgers all-time kill leader with 1,912 and set the career hitting percentage mark at .366. She also ranks fourth in total blocks with 580.
The Hoosiers hit .583 to take the second set 25-15. The largest lead in this match was 11 points as sophomore opposite/middle blocker Avry Tatum buried a ball to make it 16-7. Despite this, the Highlanders were able to improve their hitting percentage from -0.269 to 0.174 and kill percentage from .038 to .348.
“I think Avry’s got a good chance to be good in the Big Ten,” Aird said. “It opens up the floor for us because if she’s that good for us on the right, we can have Morgan, Candy (Alonso-Corcelles) and Mady on the left.”
The final set of the match was once again fully controlled by the Hoosiers. During the final frame, Geddes had six kills on 10 errorless swings along with two aces to ignite pressure on an offensive side. Sophomore outside hitter Sierra Moore and sophomore opposite/outside hitter Olivia Flanagan gave the Highlanders a huge boost in the third set, finishing the match with six kills and five kills in that set.
Indiana will head to Long Beach, California to play in the Long Beach Invitational. The first match is Aug. 31 at 10 p.m. against California State University, Long Beach.