FORT WAYNE – The IPFW womens volleyball team is well aware that it isnt supposed to win tonight when it plays at Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. And thats OK.
After all, the Mastodons were underdogs against Georgia this year and won 3-1. They were expected to fold to Michigan State but took the Spartans to five sets before finally falling. Even in the first round of the Summit League tournament in Fargo, N.D., nemesis Oakland had IPFW on the brink of elimination, two sets to none. But then the Mastodons rallied to win three in a row, then swept IUPUI the next night for the Summit League championship and a berth into tonights NCAA first round.
Underdogs? IPFW (25-6) loves the sound of it.
This is a team that truly has a blue-collar mentality, IPFWs 14th-year coach Kelley Hartley Hutton says. They dont mind being the underdog. I think we even play better in that situation. Most of the time in the Summit League, we were the first-place team in the standings, and Im not sure we responded great with that target on our back. The personality of this team is, Hey, lets do it when were not supposed to; lets come from behind. Thats happened a few times this season. Its given me a heart attack. But this team has really showed never to throw in the towel.
This is IPFWs second trip to the NCAA tournament in four years. When seniors Haley Emenhiser, Jessie Manwaring, Tessa McGill and Megan Steenhuysen were freshmen, they lost to Illinois 3-0 in the first round.
At 8:30 p.m. comes 18th-ranked Iowa State (20-7), which finished second in the Big 12 standings behind Texas and is 12-1 when playing on its home floor in Ames, Iowa.
The last time (in the NCAA tournament) was like, Oh my gosh, we made it, said Steenhuysen, who was the MVP of the Summit League tournament. Its going to be a great experience again, but I feel were going out there with more of a purpose and like a real belief we have a chance.
Its not going to be as overwhelming because weve already done it. This year, I think were more prepared in the fact that in the beginning of the year we played some really good schools. We went to five with Michigan State; we were right there with them. We beat Georgia. That has given us confidence; that if we can play with them, why not play with this team?
This year weve really proven to ourselves that they might be bigger than us, they might be stronger than us, but were going to get in there and were going to play with them.
Whoever is across the net from us, were going to play pretty fearless and not be intimidated.
Athletes of note
Saint Francis junior forward Scott Kohne (Bishop Dwenger) was named the Crossroads League mens basketball player of the week. In two games that resulted in a win and a loss, Kohne averaged 22.5 points, 14 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Trine senior forward Scott Rogers was named co-MIAA mens basketball player of the week. In two victories, Rogers averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots. He shared the award with Garner Small of Olivet. Indiana Tech soccer players, junior Morgan Delagrange (New Haven) and senior Justine Jost (Homestead), received All-WHAC academic honors. Players must carry at least a 3.25 grade-point average to qualify. Tech senior Darcie
Faylor (Carroll) received a similar academic honor and was named All-WHAC honorable mention in volleyball. Newberry College junior outside hitter Samantha Parrish, an Angola native, was named to the Daktronics All-Southeast Region second team.