With IU regional campuses set to return athletic play on Feb. 2 after being put on hold due to COVID, IU Kokomo’s volleyball team now is preparing for a return to the court.
In the fall, the Cougars went undefeated to win the River States Conference title for the third year in a row. Now Head Coach Heather Hayes is remaining optimistic, but she said she’s unsure how the spring season will go.
“I have no idea and cannot begin to predict what the next stage of our season will look like. I am certainly hopeful and would love our team to have the opportunity to play in the National Tournament but understand COVID may have other plans,” Hayes said. “We must remain hopeful, patient, and flexible.”
IU Kokomo volleyball will pick back up on Feb. 20 at Indiana University South Bend at 1 p.m.
Hayes spoke on the importance of the spring season and pushing through to get it done. Not only is it a great challenge for the program year in and year out, but it also provides the Cougars another opportunity to be champions yet again.
“Our spring presents immense challenge for our program. It is meant to help us grow and find the next level. We are playing many national tournament teams. Two teams that make up four of our matches are top five in country. We also have other ranked opponents on the schedule. We will enter every match with a goal to win. However, we will not judge our performance solely on the outcome. What did we learn, and how did we grow from this level of competition?” she said.
After six straight trips to the conference championship, Hayes knows what it takes to win, and she has what she said is her best team yet. Could they go undefeated again in the spring? It is unlikely but certainly plausible based on the fall results and the roster Hayes has at her disposal. The team only dropped three sets over the fall season, as the deep and dominant team refused to lose.
It’s all about putting it together again and making another run. With just dropping three sets over the season, maintaining that level of success is expected to get more difficult, according to Hayes.
There’s no pressure to stay undefeated. Hayes said she and her players certainly aren’t focusing on the aspect of not losing a single game, but rather the team is playing teams that will best prepare them for what they’ll see in the national tournament.
“I am very excited to see how our team is able to compete at this next level,” Hayes said.