BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – Purdue University Calumet traveled to the Cougar Gym and quickly grabbed a 2-1 lead over Indiana University Kokomo in women’s volleyball. And that was it. In a night that saw just two lead changes and five tie scores over three sets, the Cougars dominated nearly every facet of the game as they topped PUC 25-11, 25-23, 25-9.
“We knew we needed to stay focused; at the beginning of the season I don’t think we could do what we did to that team tonight,” said IU Kokomo head coach Heather Hayes, whose team improved to 9-7 after a 0-5 start. “I thought we played the way we should have played tonight.”
With the Peregrines holding a 2-1 lead in the opener, a kill from Lindi Thomas (Parker City, Ind./Wapahani) tied the game at 3-3. PUC scored the next point, but Rachel Allen (Linton, Ind./Tri-West) countered with a kill to tie the game at four each. Three straight errors from Calumet and a rocket kill from Thomas put Kokomo up 8-4 – and they never looked back, cruising to the 14 point win.
Set two may appear on paper to be close but it does not show that Kokomo jumped to a 6-1 lead on a kill from Elyse Younger (Fishers, Ind./Fishers) and led 22-12 victory in sight. But Kokomo’s cruise control turned into complacency as Calumet made a fierce comeback. The Cougars allowed three aces, had three unforced errors and allowed the Peregrines to dominate the net during a stretch that forced Hayes to call a pair of time outs. But just as PUC closed to 24-23, they had an error of its own to give the game to the Cougars.
“We had a comfortable lead in set two,” said Hayes. “Unfortunately, that was our mindset and we just got too relaxed on the court and lost our engagement.”
The third set saw the two squad’s battle to a 3-3 tie before Casey Colgate (Indianapolis/Lutheran) gave the Cougars the lead for good at 4-3. After Younger, Micayla Speidel (Columbus, Ind., Columbus East) and Allen rattled off three straight kills, Kokomo led 19-6 before holding the Peregrines to single digits in the set.
“We have a lot of talent on our team, and you can see that at practice,” said Hayes. “Our team really pushes each other all of the time. And we have started to gel, which has resulted in minimizing our unforced errors.”
Younger led the Cougars with eight kills. Thomas had a solid all-around game with seven kills, nine digs, two service aces and dropped all 12 of her serves in play. Speidel added seven kills. Cortney Hanson (Logansport, Ind./Pioneer) had 20 assists while Colgate added eight assists and a pair of service aces. Last week’s KIAC Volleyball Player of the Week and team captain Lael Larrick (Denver, Ind./North Miami) had 12 digs and was 9 for 9 on serves.
“Tonight, I was really pleased with our serving, especially our short serving,” said Hayes. “We did that really, really well tonight. I think we got them out of rhythm with our serves tonight.”
IU Kokomo is back in action on Sept. 27 as they travel to Purdue University North Central for a 2 p.m. match. They return to Cougar Gym for Faculty Appreciation Night on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. when they host Indiana University Southeast.