Big Ten 2023, News.

Indiana 0810

Setter Camryn Haworth leads the Big Ten in aces with 49 (Photo: Indiana)

Entering his sixth season with Indiana, head coach Steve Aird knew exactly what he wanted from his team during the Big Ten women’s volleyball conference, which started last month.

After leading the conference in aces per set in 2022, the coach wanted the Hoosiers to maintain the aggressive and confident mindset on the service line, making of their serving efficiency part of the team’s identity and one of the factors that would make them tough opponents to anyone.

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With five victories over and losses to Penn State and the undefeated Wisconsin and Nebraska, the Hoosiers are currently in fourth place in the standings. Indiana will play a pivotal match on Wednesday, at 19:00 local time (23:00 UTC), on the road against in-state rivals Purdue, who are fifth with the same five wins and three losses – the encounter will be streamed live for VBTV subscribers around the world.

Their promising start of the season can be, at least in part, credited to their strong serving as Indiana currently leads the Big Ten in aces (138) and aces per set (1.92), improving from their 1.77 average of 2022 and having an impressive 22 aces more than second-placed Iowa.

“We’re at times very, very high risk-reward from the end line, but my philosophy is that I want to set the tone,” Aird said. “I want it to be kind of the characteristic or the trait of our program is to be very aggressive from the end line. I think also we're not as good as some of the teams that we’re playing, so we have to be a little bit more high error, high risk from the end line. What’s happening now, though, is that those players that are pretty high error are becoming more skilled, more mature, more inside their game, and I would expect or hope that we will be one of the best serving teams in the Big Ten if not the country.”

Aird has several players who fit perfectly in his strategy, but no one represents it better than junior setter Camryn Haworth, who leads the Big Ten in aces with 49, to an average of 0.68 per set. The left-handed setter, who also leads the conference in assists (705), currently ranks fourth in all-time aces (140) for Indiana and is on pace to make history with the Hoosiers.

Haworth is coming from a big week, having registered 68 assists, 16 digs and five aces on victories over Purdue and Michigan and taken home her second Big Ten Setter of the Week award in the season.

“He has a lot of confidence in the three or four of us who do that top-spin serve,” the setter reflected about the team’s serving strategy. “So it’s just nice to know that our teammates and our coaches have our back when we’re trying to do something a little more aggressive and might make a mistake.”

This week, after playing the Boilermakers on the road on Wednesday, the Hoosiers will also face Ohio State at home on Saturday.

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