Following Saturday’s victory against then-No. 13 Michigan, IU cracked the top 50 in NCAA Women’s Volleyball RPI and hopes to carry that momentum into Wednesday’s match at No. 2 Minnesota.
The Hoosiers, 15-10 overall and 4-8 in the Big Ten, travel to Minneapolis, where IU has not won since 1995, for the second meeting between the Big Ten teams this season.
Minnesota, 17-4 overall and 9-3 in the Big Ten, has been a different team at home than on the road this season. The Golden Gophers have been unstoppable in the comforts of Sports Pavilion and are off to an 8-0 start and most recently beat then-No. 10 Penn State. However, they are a pedestrian 5-4 on the road. Minnesota also has a 4-0 clip when matches have been played at neutral sites.
Freshman setter Victoria Brisack said it’s time someone knocks Minnesota into the losing column at home and IU can be that team.
“We have been saying for a long time that we have to get back and show people what Indiana volleyball really is,” Brisack said. “We are going to keep people on their toes and show them that we really are a tournament team this year and we deserve to be there. We may not be the most physical, but we have so much fight and so much heart and so much love for the game that it could still be a pretty special season. Why not us?”
IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said her team must build off its win against Michigan by buying into a winner’s mentality and practicing like winners practice.
The 10th-year coach said she does not believe it will be difficult for the Hoosiers to play with that winner’s mindset against the No. 2 team in the country and thinks it will in fact be easier because the players can take risks.
Minnesota swept IU in three sets about a month ago in Bloomington when the teams last faced each other, and Dunbar-Kruzan admits the Hoosiers played too safely.
“We have to have that type of mentality, and we can’t go in and do what everyone else has done,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We can’t be passive and we can’t let them control the environment even though they get sold-out crowds. We have to be us and we have to play with that winner’s mentality in order to compete.”
Beginning last weekend, Dunbar-Kruzan implemented a new lineup that has both Hoosier setters to be on the court at once. This allows senior Megan Tallman to play near the back and avoid re-injuring her finger, which had broken and sidelined the co-captain, while Brisack handles the setter position’s duties closer to the net.
Brisack likens her and Tallman’s relationship on the court to being like a quarterback in football who has someone to bounce ideas off of because they both see the exact same thing.
“Playing at the same time as Megan hasn’t been much different from the whole season because I came early last spring and we worked together for an entire three or four months,” Brisack said. “It’s cool because we were helping each other the whole time and now we get to play on the same side at the same time as one another, so we give each other constant feedback.”
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