IU volleyball wraps up its regular season schedule with away matches at Maryland and Ohio State this weekend.
The three teams share a common strength: serving.
IU ranks second in the Big Ten with 164 service aces, OSU third with 147 and Maryland fourth with 145.
Hoosier seniors occupy three of the top 12 spots of the conference’s individual service aces leaderboard. Senior co-captain and libero Taylor Lebo sits in fifth place, averaging 0.33 aces per set, while senior outside hitter Allison Hammond sits in 10th with 0.30 aces per set and senior co-captain and setter Megan Tallman rounds out the top 12 with a 0.29 average.
Lebo’s 35 total aces are good for fourth in the Big Ten.
IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said the presence of the senior leaders in practice has really helped the team focus.
“We had a very good week of practice going into these final matches of the regular season,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We emphasized competition in practice and I thought the team handled it well.”
In IU’s previous meeting with Ohio State, which is 18-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers upset the then-No. 22 Buckeyes in four sets.
The Hoosiers (17-14, 6-12) will need to stifle Buckeye sophomore outside hitter Audra Appold and senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe, who contributed 19 and 18 kills, respectively, in the Nov. 5 matchup.
“It is important for us to have a narrow focus this weekend and stay in the process of what we want to do,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “I like the mindset of our team and I’m excited to play these last two matches.”
IU hasn't faced Maryland (11-20, 3-16) this season, but will look to take advantage of the Terrapins’ sub-par, 5-7 home record.
Since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014, it has faced IU twice and lost three sets to one in both meetings. Less than two weeks before IU’s upset of Ohio State, however, Maryland also beat OSU.
“Maryland has improved every year they have been in this conference,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “I remember playing them at their place two years ago and they had a great environment. They played a tough five set match against Purdue the other night and we will have to be at our best to get a win against them.”
IU matches up against Maryland in College Park at 7 p.m. Friday and against Ohio State in Columbus at 7 p.m. Saturday.