By: CASEY MCDONALD
Midterms are over, fall break has passed, and for the IU South Bend volleyball team, the season is almost over. So far this season the Titans have gone 13-18 overall, 7-7 in the CCAC.
The team, win or lose, works hard and sticks together no matter what. Each player has her own vision of the future of the team, but all have one goal in mind.
Senior #5 Emily Nix is a middle hitter on the team, who is well accomplished both on and off the field.
“I try to be the glue that holds our team together, like last year I received the Sportsmanship Award,” she said. “I have also been on the dean’s list and received the Daktronics Award.”
Freshman #10 Ashley Ojo is an outside hitter who comes from Merrillville High School and has been playing volleyball for five years.
Senior #3 Jennifer Stahl, a defensive specialist for the Titans, said that volleyball has been a huge part of her college life. Competing in her fourth year with the team, she said it is her favorite year by far.
“It is bittersweet because it’s my last year to play serious ball. I have learned many things from my experience in the program, not just on the court but outside of volleyball again,” Stahl said. “There are many things that you take for granted and realizations that you come to being a fourth year player that you had not thought of during the first couple seasons.”
And then there’s freshman #9 Jordan Brough, a graduate from Penn High School who is a defensive specialist and outside hitter. While at Penn, she contributed to state championships two of her four years.
“It was a crazy experience to be a part of. Not many athletes can say they have two state championships,” Brough said.
At the halfway point of the season, the team split their record overall and in CCAC, 9-10 (3-3).
“All together, I am incredibly optimistic and I believe this will be IU South Bend’s best volleyball season on record,” Nix said.
Tournament time can be one of the most stressful times of a season, especially when it can end it. Ojo believes that in order to prepare for the big tourney, the team’s energy and communication on and off the court is something that is going to impact them.
“We have the capability to beat the best teams and lose to the worst teams all depending on the energy we put forth,” Nix said. “If the 14 of us learn how to always be game-ready and channel in this positive energy on command, we will remain unstoppable.”
When it comes down to it, volleyball is a game of mentality.
“Our mental strength and hard work at practice is what is going to get us ready for tournament time,” Stahl said.
Coach Ashmore is in her sixth coaching season at IU South Bend. When it comes to her players, they all have different thoughts on the coaching process.
“Our coaches may yell at us or get frustrated but it is because they believe in each one of us and know we can do better,” Stahl said. “They are willing to put in the extra effort as long as we are too.”
The team knows that communication is key when working with their coaches.
“They, just like us, value feedback and adjust our practices around the current set of events,” Nix said. “They want to help us individually succeed while also getting a team win. Our relationship with them has gotten stronger and more open every year.”
Just like her fellow teammates, Ojo agrees that the coaching staff is great and very insightful.
“They expect greatness from us because they know we can achieve greatness,” she said. “They never allow us to settle for just being average.”
The team has only a few matches left before the CCAC tournament, and the team has continued throughout the entire season to improve and work together.
“Volleyball is, at times, a challenging and time consuming sport [both] mentally and physically. But playing for the IUSB Titans is worth every second,” Stahl said. “We have a great group of people on the team. We all have a bond that we will remember forever and if nothing else, that makes it all worth it.”
IU South Bend will host the CCAC Crossover tournament on Oct. 28 and 29 before their final match against Purdue Northwest on Nov. 3. All of the IU South Bend community is encouraged by the team to go out, show their Titan spirit and celebrate the season’s end.