IUS volleyball looks to bounce back, improve on last season

IUS Horizon

The IUS volleyball team practices in preparation for the upcoming season.

This upcoming season for IUS women’s volleyball has those who remember last year, which was derailed by a swine flu outbreak on the team, thinking about redemption.

Lesley Drury-Prather, IUS head Volleyball coach, said the four cases of swine flu the team experienced last year cost players a chance at going to the national tournament, awarded to the winner of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

“We lost in the semis,” Drury-Prather said. “We should have made it to the finals.”

The virus hit the team during the last weeks of the season, but the players held it together. The team had a 22-10 record overall and was undefeated in conference play going into its final conference game before losing to IU East to end the regular season.

“Leading up to the conference tournament, we didn’t have a strong couple of weeks,” Drury-Prather said.

Lauren McCartin, computer graphics junior, and one of only four players remaining from last year’s team, said she has high goals for this upcoming season.

“I want to go undefeated in the conference,” McCartin said.  “I want to go to nationals.”

This team is young.  Half of the team’s 10 players are freshman and only one, McCartin, holds at least a junior class standing.

“I think we have a young, inexperienced, but solid team,” Drury-Prather said.  “We have very athletic players.”

She added that defense is the focus of the Grenadiers this season, which seems fitting considering the veteran McCartin plays as the defensive specialist/libero. Assistant coach, Sarah Drury-Petkovic, played the position for the University of Louisville.

The coaches are sisters and are both entering their second season with the team. Drury-Prather got the head coaching job after the previous coach, Carrie Lilly, resigned, and quickly brought Drury-Petkovic onboard.

Drury-Petkovic coached the Grenadiers last year, even though she was already an assistant for the girl’s volleyball team at Assumption High School in Louisville.

“She did me a favor last year,” Drury-Prather said.

This season, Drury-Petkovic chose to focus soley on her job at IU Southeast.

“I had to choose family first,” Drury-Petkovic said.

The coaches plan on improving the team’s performance in the middle and their blocking, even if it means moving players to positions they’re unfamiliar with.

“We’re going to be converting an outside hitter to a middle hitter,” Drury-Prather said.

Drury-Prather said that despite the inexperience on the team, she believes the players are more than capable of performing well. She said she believes their competitive nature and the preparation they are doing now will payoff in the future.

“If we get them in shape, then I expect big things from them,” Drury-Prather said. “We have competitors on this team that don’t want to lose.”

McCartin’s coaches said she embodies that competitiveness and they see her as  the leader of this team and she does not shy away from that responsibility.

“I hate losing,“ McCartin said.  “I want to focus on everybody becoming a team. Everyone on the team needs to agree with me about getting to nationals.”

By DERRICK HOLDRIDGE

Sports Editor

dvholdri@umail.iu.edu