News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

October 19, 2008

Given To Fly: ISU volleyball turning things around

It was an extremely busy weekend for Indiana State athletics this weekend.

After the Indiana State basketball teams got practice under way in Hulman Center — more on that later — I had an opportunity to see the second half of the Sycamores volleyball team in a heated match against Illinois State. In front of a solid crowd, first-year coach Traci Dahl’s team improved to 2-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

OK, big deal, you might be thinking.

It is a big deal for a program that’s struggled as much or more than ISU football in recent seasons.

Dahl took over a team that, like coach Trent Miles with the football program, went absolutely winless during the 2007 season. Not only that, but the Sycamores had lost 33 straight MVC matches until they defeated Bradley this season.

Bradley is 0-9, so beating them is nice, but beating an Illinois State team that had a winning record (10-9, 4-4 MVC) before arriving in Terre Haute this weekend is a much bigger deal.

“It seems to me all of there was all these clouds hanging over the team’s head,” Dahl said. “They’ve got a get an MVC win, got to get a road win. We’re slowly but surely tackling all of these clouds.”

The Sycamores took fourth-place Missouri State to five sets at Springfield, Mo., and also lost in five to Drake, whom they are tied with in the standings for eighth place.

They hope to have built momentum Friday. Illinois State looked poised to steal the fourth set after Indiana State built an early lead. The set was tied at 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28. The Sycamores showed some killer instinct and didn’t allow the match to go a fifth set.

“We’ve been close. What we’ve been working on in practice is closing out the match, closing out the match because these girls have been struggling getting over the hump of the fifth game,” Dahl said. “The tight close games, to get us the lead we weren’t able to do it. [Friday] we just kept battling back and got after it. It paid off. This was a well deserved win.”

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