It's been a rough first half of conference play for IU.
The Hoosiers have begun Big Ten play 1-9, including an 0-8 mark to start the conference season.
With 10 Big Ten matches remaining, the Hoosiers will look to start the second half of their conference slate with strong performances against the Terrapins on Friday night and the Buckeyes on Saturday night.
Both of these matches will be played on the road, where IU has played better this season.
IU's lone match against Maryland this season came in Bloomington on Sept. 23 and was a 3-0 Maryland win.
IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said the team wasn't itself in that straight-set loss.
Sophomore setter Victoria Brisack injured her ankle during the match but stayed in the game, which left IU a lot less mobile.
One of IU’s strong suits is its serve-and-pass game, but Brisack's injury affected the team’s passing game. IU's serving wasn’t intact either, as the Hoosiers had 10 service errors in the three sets.
Now, with Brisack fully healed, IU is looking forward to the rematch with the Terrapins.
“I think we’re definitely a different team than what we were the first time we played them,” sophomore outside hitter Kendall Beerman said. “We have a different mindset and a whole different game plan.”
That game plan will have to include a way to slow down the 6-2 offense of the Terrapins, as Maryland has a left-handed outside hitter on the right side and a right-handed outside hitter on the left side.
At practice, there were signs of how Dunbar-Kruzan wants her team to get up and block at the net, something the team struggled to do in the first meeting.
The Terrapins have had similar struggles in conference play, going 3-7. Both teams have wins against Rutgers, and both teams went to five sets against Northwestern. The only difference is that Maryland was victorious over Northwestern, while IU lost.
After the match in College Park, Maryland, IU will travel by plane to Columbus, Ohio, for an 8 p.m. match against Ohio State on Saturday night.
Ohio State is 11-10 overall this season, one less win than IU’s 12-10 record, but Ohio State is 4-6 in the conference. Like Maryland, it also has wins against Rutgers and Northwestern. The other two wins were against Maryland and then-No. 21 Purdue.
Dunbar-Kruzan said she thinks the team has put the pieces together to string two wins in a row this weekend.
She said sophomore middle blockers Deyhsia Lofton and Hayden Huybers have been playing high-level volleyball.
Junior right side hitter Elizabeth Asdell and freshman outside hitter Kamryn Malloy have added more weapons to the Hoosiers' offense.
Freshman defensive specialist Nora Meehan has been getting used to her libero position, and sophomore outside hitter Kendall Beerman, who is eighth in the Big Ten in kills per set, is back and healthy after being out with a concussion.
“Our attitude is really good,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We need to be the hungriest team out there, and I want us to look at this as a new season. We played 10, now we have 10 remaining. We want this last season to be out best our sason.”
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