Volleyball unable to pick up first Big Ten win


Junior defensive specialist Samantha Fogg and sophomore defensive specialist Meaghan Koors dive to keep the ball alive against Maryland on Sept. 23 at the University Gym. IU is now 1-17 in conference play entering the final two matches of the regular season.  Steven Lin Buy Photos

After the IU football team shined in its 52-17 win over Georgia Southern and IU fans spent most of their day out in the heat with them, the University Gym was quiet. 

That atmosphere resonated on the court for IU volleyball. 

The Hoosiers lost in straight sets to Maryland on Saturday night, which makes IU 0-2 in Big Ten Conference play to start the season. 

In the first two sets, the Terrapins had their way, winning 25-17 and 25-19. Toward the end of those sets, the Hoosiers put together small runs, but it was too little, too late.

“We fell off our game plan,” sophomore setter Victoria Brisack said. “As they started to make runs, we started to get pretty quiet and hesitant, which never goes well.”

Maryland was finding the open spots on the court as they had a hitting percentage of .400 through the first two sets, compared to IU’s .167.

IU's serves were another problem that presented itself during the match. Usually serving is one of the Hoosiers' strong suits, but Saturday the team had 10 service errors, which was more than usual.

“Our serving and passing game affected us a ton in the first two sets,” IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We couldn’t find a rhythm on offense, and we weren’t taking them enough out-of-system.”

However, in the third set, IU made a big turn around, playing with the lead for most of the set. 

At 22-21, Maryland sophomore outside hitter Gia Milana served two straight aces to swing the momentum to the Terrapins at 23-22. However, Milana made an error on her next serve, and it was IU's turn to score two straight points and go up 24-23.

Freshman defensive specialist Bayli Lebo served to win the set for IU, but after a set by Maryland’s sophomore setter Samantha Snyder, freshman outside hitter Erika Pritchard got the kill to even things up at 24. 

Maryland would go on to win the third set 26-24, earning the match win, but the play of IU was much better in that deciding set.

“Third set we started to settle down,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “Gia got on serving run at the end, which was unfortunate, she’s a really good server, but for the most part, I thought that was an even set.”

When IU reaches 20 points in a set, the Hoosiers call it “winning time," and in the third set they were unable to close things out.

“We try to have no unforced errors and play as close to a perfect five points as we can to close it out,” Brisack said. “Unfortunately, we had a couple of unforced errors late in that set and that gave Maryland some momentum to kind of fight back.”

Dunbar-Kruzan said she thought the team was out of character Saturday. She said she noticed how whenever Maryland had its back against the wall, the Terrapins just pounded the ball out of aggression and competitiveness. 

“That’s us,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “I don’t know why we didn’t have that tonight, but we have to get that back because mentally we were just not ready to put a ball down at the end.”

After failing to win their first two Big Ten games at home, the Hoosiers will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, on Sept. 27 to face the No. 13-ranked Purdue Boilermakers. 

Despite the slow start and the challenges ahead, the team said it isn't worried. 

“We are very motivated and get better every single day,” Briscak said. “We have yet to reach our peak, and it’s going to be pretty exciting when we do.”

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