BY DEAN HOCKNEY
On Aug. 27, the Indiana University Kokomo volleyball team made its collegiate debut in a loss to Indiana Tech. Fourteen days later, the upstart squad grabbed the programs first win with a 25-22, 25-22 victory over the Grace College Lancers – a win many were surprised happened at such an early stage of the program.
“This is an amazing accomplishment for our team,” said Cougars head coach Kristen Snoddy. “We have come together in a short amount of time and have proven we are competitive and driven. I am so proud of all the players.”
IUK Chancellor Michael Harris, who traveled to Winona Lake and witnessed the IUK athletic department’s first win in any sport, shared the proud moment with the team.
“I am thrilled to share this amazing experience with the coaches and the team who have worked so hard to reach this goal,” he said. “They are fulfilling the dream and vision of the campus by proving to be a first-rate team. This is a great, historic day for IU Kokomo and its future as a world class regional campus.”
Four days later, Grace traveled to Kokomo and avenged the loss (25-27, 25-19, 22-25, 20-25), but Snoddy said she is pleased with where the program is despite the setback.
“I have told the girls we are accomplishing a lot,” said Snoddy. “Everyone can see we are improving from match-to-match, but the girls are not happy because we are not winning. But that is okay – they are competitors and that is what we want on the team. So I try and help them see the big picture.”
Snoddy recognizes that most of these players have been together for only two or three months, so she understands the patience that is needed to form the team. But at the same time, she sees great potential in the talent on the floor.
“We are still making a lot of mistakes and unforced errors,” she said. “We have to keep pounding away and getting better. I think we still have more wins left in us before the end of the season. Our girls have put a lot of time and work into this.”
As evidenced by the close score in the 3-1 loss to Grace, the Cougars are playing competitively in most matches. And while she would not accept moral victories, Snoddy is happy with the play of her team.
“We are not that far off,” said Snoddy. “I think every team we play this year is a recruited team, so for us to be in these games in our first year is a plus. I was a little afraid that teams were going to pound us night in and night out, but that hasn’t happened.”
Snoddy also said she is thrilled with the attendance the squad is getting from supporters of the program. When the Lady Cougars won at Grace College, IUK had more spectators in the stands than the host team. And when the team returned for a home match at Northwestern High School last week, hundreds showed up to cheer them on, including Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight and Chancellor Harris.
“A lot of people are coming that have never watched volleyball before and we are creating a sense of community on the campus,” Snoddy said. “We have played at some really nice facilities and they have not had the fan support at those locations. But we have had great support. (College athletics) is something the community has been hungry for.”
The Cougars return to action on Sept. 23 at Ancilla College. They return home for a 7 p.m. match at Northwestern on Sept. 29 to take on Indiana Tech.