KOKOMO, Ind. – The start of athletics at Indiana University Kokomo got off with a big bang even though the women’s volleyball team went 0-2 in its opening weekend of play. Despite losing matches to Indiana Tech on Saturday and Vincennes University on Sunday, coach Kristen Snoddy said the Cougars gained something from the experience.
“I saw dramatic improvement from one day to the next,” said Snoddy. “If we had played on Saturday like we did on Sunday, we’d have won that match.”
Sunday the Cougars opened their home schedule at Northwestern High School against the Trailblazers before a packed house. The final scores were not indicative of the effort put forth by the new team. Vincennes won 25-15, 25-17 and 25-12, despite a strong performance by IU Kokomo.
The first game of the match saw the Cougars fall down 7-0 before scoring their first point on a strong serve by Lael Burrus. The Trailblazers, thanks to the strong play by the back line, pushed the score to 18-6 before IU Kokomo could make another run. The Cougars cut the lead to 23-15 but Vincennes put the game away with two quick points.
The Cougars found their feet in the second game, battling to a 7-4 lead early in the match. Vincennes stormed back, reclaimed the lead at 9-8 and pushed its advantage to 21-17 before pulling away for the win.
In the best of five set, the Cougars fell behind early in the third match as Vincennes built a 13-3 lead. IU Kokomo never came closer than eight the rest of the way.
“Our improvement today (Sunday) was incredible,” Snoddy said. “We made about half as many mistakes as we did the day before.”
Snoddy understands the pressure the players in a new program feel.
“We were playing against a team with several scholarship players,” she said. “This is still a club sport for us. But we played well today and we will get better as the season goes along.”
Against Vincennes, the Cougars were led by Krista Armstrong with 29 digs and Shelby Spall with six kills. Rachael Williams led the team with nine assists from the setter position.
“I have to give Rachael credit,” Snoddy said. “She wasn’t really a setter but she knew we needed one. She stepped up and took the position when we needed her to.”
In addition, the Cougars received solid play from Payton Landseadel, Jenna Peling, Brittany Royer, Alex Wylie, Emily West and Liz Barney.
The Cougars opened the season against Indiana Tech, losing 25-16, 25-17, and 25-14.
“We had some opening game jitters,” Snoddy said. “That was to be expected. We had lots of errors but we played with lots of emotion.”
The next match for the Cougars is Sept. 6 against Goshen College at Northwestern High School with a 7 p.m. start time. On Sept. 10, IU Kokomo travels to Grace College for a three-way match with the first game at 9 a.m.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.