It was all smiles Thursday evening at practice for the IU volleyball team, following a 3-0 loss to No. 19 Purdue the previous night.
IU's inconsistent offense and struggling defense made for a bad combination in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue led IU in just about every category Wednesday night.
However, the Hoosiers are ready to go at it with the Boilermakers again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the University Gym in Bloomington.
“The beauty of this rival match is that we get to play them again,” sophomore outside hitter Ally Badowski said. “There were a lot of things we did really well Wednesday night, and now we are just working on the things we need to fix.”
This same scenario happened last year. In 2016, IU lost 3-0 in West Lafayette, but when the match was in Bloomington, the Hoosiers took the Boilermakers to five sets.
The Hoosiers have still not won a set in Big Ten play this season, losing their three conference games by a combined 9-0 score.
IU struggled against Purdue's outside hitters Wednesday, as Purdue's blocking game proved troublesome for IU.
“There’s always a shot open,” Badowski said. “We need to focus on working around the block and making the right decision.”
The length and height of the Boilermakers is something that makes Purdue one of the best hitting teams in the nation. The Boilermakers are eighth in the nation in hitting percentage.
IU is not the hitting and blocking team that Purdue is, so IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said IU has to focus on its strengths against Purdue.
“Serving and passing are our strengths and we didn’t do our part Wednesday night,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “Credit to them, we didn’t control the serve and pass game and so they were able to be in system the whole time, and with the players they have, we have to force them out-of-system.”
The Hoosiers have struggled to start strong at the beginning of sets during conference play. That problem continued against Purdue. The Hoosiers went down 9-4 in the first set, 10-4 in the second set and 10-3 in the third set.
“I thought we came out with the mentality that was different than the last couple of matches," Dunbar-Kruzan said. "We had some really good team conversations about being ready right off the bat. It’s not that we weren’t ready, they just controlled a lot of things on the floor.”
Dunbar-Kruzan said it comes all back to that serve and pass game. If the Hoosiers aren’t serving Purdue tough enough, then it allows the Boilermakers to get up and kill the ball with ease, which makes it more difficult for IU to match them point-for-point.
“There’s no room for frustration,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “It does nothing to help you move forward. We either win or we learn, and we are learning right now and the team is coming into practice hungry and eager to get better. We looked at three things to get better at for Saturday and we hounded them this week and they did.”
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