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Culture Shock

Season in Review: Indiana Volleyball Trending Upward

The Indiana Volleyball team ended the 2022 season 16-16 overall with a 9-11 record in Big Ten play. Although the Hoosiers’ drought of not making the NCAA tournament continues, there are many positives to take away from the season.

The preseason predictions for the Big Ten had Indiana at 13th in the conference, and one could say that was rightfully so due to last season's record. A team that tallied only 10 wins in 2021, as well as four conference wins, did not look poised to make major strides. However, fifth-year head coach Steve Aird utilized his young core to tally the most conference wins that the program has seen since 2010, its last NCAA Tournament appearance. 

The younger and less experienced members of the team had some of the biggest impacts on a very up-and-down season. The sophomore duo of setter Camryn Haworth and outside hitter Mady Saris showed incredible growth and chemistry as the season went on. Haworth, who finished third in the conference in total assists, found a way to provide for an offense that was 12th in the Big Ten in hitting percentage. Haworth was also named to the First Team All-Big Ten after a prolific sophomore campaign. When under control, Saris became one of the more dangerous attackers in the conference, fifth in total kills on the season hitting .427.

An early season injury for starting middle blocker Kaley Rammelsburg saw new potential for the junior attacking duo of Savannah Kjolhede and Morgan Geddes. Both came up in pivotal moments throughout the season, as Kjolhede led the team in attacking percentage with 30.8% of her attacks resulting in points for the Hoosiers. Although Rammelsburg returned to action on October 16th against Michigan, she was fairly limited with her playing time for the remainder of the season, which allowed Kjolhede and Geddes to solidify their roles on the team. 

Big Ten Conference play seemed to draw its typical woes for the Indiana squad, as the team was hot and cold throughout the season. Six Big Ten teams made the NCAA Tournament, which was the most of any conference. An early four-game losing streak did involve two five-setters, one of which was against rival Purdue in which IU held a 2-1 set lead. This was followed by a four-game win streak in which the Hoosiers earned a ranked win for the first time since 2019 defeating No. 25 Michigan in Ann Arbor. The gauntlet run of the season followed for a team that was figuring out its form, as five-straight ranked games were all losses. Four of the matches were on the road, as well as three against top-10 opponents (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota). 

Ultimately, this Hoosier squad was not going down without a hard fought battle. The final two weeks of the season showed more of the impressive feats that this team could accomplish.

Indiana first beat Northwestern and Big Ten leader in kills Temi Thomas-Ailara in five sets.

Just two days after knocking off the Wildcats, the Hoosiers traveled to Columbus to take on the No. 5 Ohio State. Prior to that Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers were 1-56 all-time against top-five opponents and winless on the road. This was subject to change, as a five-set thriller led to an Indiana victory that highlighted the growth of this team over the past two seasons. 

Serving was the key to many of Indiana’s victories as the Hoosiers led the Big Ten in total service aces, with Camryn Haworth first in total aces in the conference. Four Hoosiers tallied 200+ kills on the season, one of whom was Spanish freshman Candela Alonso-Corcellas. Savannah Kjolhede, Morgan Geddes, and Mady Saris were also part of the attacking crew.

Even with all of the improvements both individually and throughout the team, there is still room for more. The Hoosiers led the conference in total attacking errors with 711, while the lack of defensive net presence hurt Indiana as the team was 13th in the conference in blocks per set. “We have to be able to play a full game,” Aird said after the five-set loss to Purdue . 

This was one of the biggest noticeable mid-season adjustments, as Indiana would play in four more five-setters, three of which resulted in wins.

As the Hoosiers look forward to the 2023 season, they say goodbye to four seniors, including libero Paula Cerame who was awarded the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week in her second-to-last week of the season. As the season went on, Aird was able to utilize junior Isa Lopez as rotation libero for Cerame. A team returning with six key starters, next year’s Hoosiers can make a push to get back into the NCAA tournament for the first time in over a decade.

Photo courtesy of IU Athletics.

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