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RedHawk spikers look to rebound this Saturday in the inaugural IU-Purdue Classic at IU Northwest

IU South Bend, Purdue Calumet and Purdue North Central will visit the Savannah Center for regional college volleyball tourney

IU Northwest file photo
The 2011-12 RedHawks Women's Volleyball Team

A fresh start and an easy start are not always the same thing. Just ask the RedHawks of Indiana University Northwest, whose first season under new head volleyball coach Sara Keilman is off to a 1-8 start after facing such NAIA stalwarts as Cardinal Stritch and Top 25 Aquinas College.
“We wanted to have a tough schedule so we could get better,” Keilman said. “You can’t get better playing teams that you can immediately destroy. It’s a big learning process. We have mostly freshman and sophomores. They’re a young team.”
Keilman and her assistant coach, Larry Babcock, took over after former head coach Omar Vazquez departed the IU Northwest program after five seasons.
Leading the RedHawk squad this season is Ancilla College transfer and outside hitter Lauren Krempec, of South Bend. Returning standouts from last season include middle hitter Tabitha Newcomb (Kankakee Valley) and defensive specialist Courtney Byrd (Portage), along with four other sophomores. Freshman right side hitter Zoey Huizenga (Crown Point) has also made an early impact, the coaches said.
The RedHawks have been competitive in most of their matches, Keilman pointed out, but she admitted that her squad has learned some tough lessons in the early going, including the importance of better communication on the court.
Keilman and the RedHawks hope to have many of those bugs worked out in time for this weekend’s inaugural IU-Purdue Volleyball Classic, to be held at the IU Northwest Savannah Center this Saturday, Sept. 10, beginning at 9 a.m. Other teams participating include Purdue Calumet, Purdue North Central, and IU South Bend.     
“We want to build a rivalry between these schools in volleyball, the way we already have a rivalry in basketball,” said Keilman, who was a basketball star at PUC before coming to IU Northwest to coach her first love, volleyball. PUC’s annual Kettle Classic basketball tournament was an inspiration for the IU-Purdue Classic, she said.
The tourney has a built-in attraction for local college players and volleyball fans, Keilman said, since fans and families can come out and see plenty of local athletes whom they had previously watched in high school. And, it allows local spikers to renew rivalries against players they may have faced before, she said.
“Instead of just knowing one player, the fans can come out and see four or five players they know, all playing against each other for local teams,” Keilman said.
Saturday will mark the first trip to IU Northwest for the Lady Titans of IU South Bend, whose volleyball program is in its first year. Keilman is friends with IUSB’s head coach, Jamie Ashmore.  
Keilman and Babcock agreed that Purdue North Central might be the team to beat in this year’s tournament, but they predicted good contests all around for the region’s NAIA squads.
Keilman said it would feel strange to coach against a PUC squad that she had cheered and taken stats for last season. But she still knows players on that team and believes that her familiarity with the Peregrines may give her a competitive edge.  
“I hope they do well against the other teams,” Keilman said of PUC. “But I hope we kill ‘em.”
The tentative schedule for Saturday’s IU-Purdue Classic is as follows:
Pool Play
9 a.m.     – IU Northwest vs. Purdue University Calumet (Court 1)
               - IU South Bend vs. Purdue North Central (Court 2)
11 a.m.  – IU Northwest vs. Purdue North Central (Court 1)
              - IU South Bend vs. Purdue Calumet (Court 2)
1 p.m.       -   IU Northwest vs. IU South Bend  (Court 1)
                - Purdue North Central vs. Purdue Calumet (Court 2)
Championship Matches
3:30 p.m.        No. 1 vs. No. 4 (Court 1)
                      No. 2 vs. No. 3 (Court 2)
5:30 p.m.        Championship (Court 1)

(Times approximate and subject to change.)  


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Emily Banas
Office of Marketing and Communications

Charles Sheid
Office of Marketing and Communications

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