The Hoosiers came as close as they have to earning their first win in conference play last weekend against Northwestern and Illinois. IU's home match against Iowa at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the University Gym presents the Hoosiers with another opportunity to score that elusive victory.
The Hawkeyes come into the match at 13-6, with all six losses to ranked opponents, four of which are in the Big Ten Conference. However, Iowa does have a 3-1 win against No. 22 Michigan.
As for the Hoosiers, they are 11-7 and match up pretty evenly with the Hawkeyes. The problem IU Coach Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan sees with the Hawkeyes is their versatility on offense.
“They have three or four players they can really go to,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “We are trying to understand their offensive scheme and work on our serve and pass game.”
The serve and pass game worked well for the Hoosiers during the weekend in Illinois.
Dunbar-Kruzan thought her team controlled the majority of both matches. The only thing that didn’t go IU’s way was the end result.
IU won a set for the first time in conference play during the Northwestern match.
The team calls it “winning time” when it gets to 20 points and needs to close out a set. The team worked on “winning time” scenarios at the end of Tuesday’s practice.
“It’s hard to replicate that in practice, but we try our best,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “You can’t give the other team points that late in a set, and we need to have an aggressive mentality. We got there every set last weekend, and now it’s just believing we can win them.”
The team was playing with six rotations last weekend, which consisted of three of the freshmen — defensive specialist Bayli Lebo, outside hitter Kamryn Malloy and defensive specialist Nora Meehan.
All three put up big numbers and helped the Hoosiers have a shot at winning.
“I was excited to be in the atmosphere on the court,” Meehan said. “It was an easy transition with the girls because they are so encouraging, and I can always count on them.”
Meehan said the resiliency of the team was really important for the match against Iowa and thinks once the Hoosiers get that first conference win, they are just going to roll with it.
The team and coaching staff have always said they take pride in playing at home and it gives them a big advantage over their opponents. IU looks to use its home-court advantage to pick up that first Big Ten win of the season.
“We just need people to continue to step up,” Dunbar-Kruzan said. “If our middle blockers can have big nights like they did last weekend, and our passing is on enough to get them the ball, then I think it create a lot of positives for us.”