With its final matches this past weekend, it wasn’t about wins or losses anymore for the IU volleyball team.
Instead, the Hoosiers celebrated the careers of senior outside hitter Jessica Leish and graduate middle blocker Kristen Ostach, along with producing positive play for the rest of the team to take into the offseason.
Even though IU lost both matches to Michigan and Michigan State, there were quite a few performances that left optimism for next year’s season.
IU’s captain, junior Elizabeth Asdell, had seven kills and two blocks against the Wolverines in a 3-0 loss for the Hoosiers. Freshman defensive specialist Bayli Lebo, who moved to libero three weeks ago, had 12 digs in that match as well.
Before the team squared off against Michigan State on Saturday night, Leish and Ostach were given their jerseys inside a frame along with pictures of them with the team.
The team then took the floor against the No. 10-ranked Spartans. A week ago in East Lansing, Michigan, Michigan State defeated IU 3-0.
The first set was tied 10-10 until the Spartans went on a 5-0 run to gain a 15-10 advantage, which would allow them to win the first set, 25-19.
However, the second set was a different story.
The Hoosiers jumped out to a 9-4 lead and maintained the lead throughout. Late in the set, Michigan State cut the IU lead to one at 23-22.
The Hoosiers have struggled to close out sets in conference play all year, but sophomore middle blocker Deyshia Lofton got a kill on the next volley, giving IU a 24-22 set point advantage.
IU couldn’t seal the deal on that set point as Michigan State’s senior outside hitter Autumn Bailey found an opening in the IU defense to put more pressure on the Hoosiers at 24-23.
Spartan senior outside hitter Holly Toliver served it over the net, and IU controlled the ball. Sophomore setter Victoria Briscak set it up to sophomore middle blocker Hayden Huybers, who got the kill and won the set for the Hoosiers 25-23.
That was the first set win for IU since it took a set off Maryland on Oct. 27, ending an eight-match streak of set-less matches.
The Spartans took control in the third set, though, as they had no trouble winning it 25-14.
In the fourth set, IU trailed 15-9 and then 17-12, and it looked as if a repeat of the third set was inevitable.
On match point for Michigan State, IU sophomore outside hitter Kendall Beerman got a kill and then followed that up with a service ace. At 24-22, Bailey went for a kill, but Asdell and Huybers blocked it to cut the lead to one.
Beerman had a ball handling error on the next play to end the match for the Hoosiers, but it was still one of the best performances for the Hoosiers in conference play.
Along with the match, the season ended as well at 12-20 overall and 1-19 in the conference.
With the match and the season, it was also the end of matches being played inside University Gym, as the team will move to Wilkinson Hall next year.
Despite all the losses in Big Ten play, IU is returning 14 of its 16 players.
Next season it will be a more experienced team in a new arena, something everyone a part of the program has said they are excited about.