The Redbird volleyball team will play its first matches of the season on Friday and Saturday at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the IUPUI Tournament. They will go up against the host, IUPUI on Friday evening and Florida Golf Coast and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on Saturday.
“We’re using this week to prepare for the opening tournament. After red and white scrimmage this past weekend we definitely saw a few things we can sharpen up and work on this week,” ISU head coach Melissa Myers said.
“That’s what we’re going to spend a week doing … Just fine tuning a little bit of our offensive connections, fine tuning our defense and our service receive and just trying to get us as ready as we can for a tough opening weekend.”
Heading into this season, Illinois State was picked fourth in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, while Wichita State was selected as number one. Northern Iowa and Missouri State were the second and third picks, respectively.
“When we go into opening weekend, we come in somewhat blind and try to figure it out as we go along,” Myers said. “So we’re really looking forward to three top opponents. All three are around or below 100 RPI.”
“We definitely have some tough challenges this weekend, but we feel pretty good about the preparation that we’ve been doing.”
Sophomore Ashley Rosch, the MVC Freshman of the Year, was one of six players selected on the preseason all-conference roster. Last season Rosch led the team in kills (336), kills per set (3.08) and points (387.5). The 2012 season record for the ’Birds was 18-12 and 11-7 in conference play.
“I think this weekend will be very good for us,” Rosch said. “There will be good teams and it will be nice to finally put all our hard work to the test to see how we will do.”
“We will have some adjustments and trying new things to find what works for us, but we are definitely ready to start playing and to have a great season,” Rosch added.
“We’re confident going in that we’re going to put up a great fight,” Myers said. “I feel our team has improved and they’re going to adjust in games.”
“We’re looking forward to seeing those improvements this coming weekend and to getting ready to play. And finally seeing another opponent aside from who we have in our gym across the net,” Myers added.
Competition for the ’Birds will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday against the host IUPUI. On Saturday, the team will start at 9 a.m. and have its last set at 3 p.m.