It was not a typical postgame press conference for a volleyball team that let a 2-0 lead slip away.
IU volleyball did that in University Gym on Sunday against No. 8 Illinois, falling 3-2, but the case could be made that the happiest person in the press room postgame was Coach Steve Aird.
“I’m not a guy who pouts,” Aird said. “If the mood is somber I’ll leave that up to other people.”
The Hoosiers were without their top attacker, junior Kendall Beerman, who is dealing with a lower body injury and is day-to-day.
With what Aird describes as little depth on the team, sophomore Kamryn Malloy was forced to step in and take her spot.
Malloy collected nine kills on a .231 kill percentage.
“When people come to programs, you tell them you’ve got to be ready to compete,” Aird said. “She works hard. She’s a great teammate. Without her we’re in a different system and we’re not going five with Illinois.”
A team that was 1-19 in conference play last season will not have the highest expectations for the following season. For Aird, it was not a game the team blew.
“The term ‘blew’ would insinuate that somehow we were supposed to win the match” he said. “They’re disappointed, but my job is to remind them that we’re not the number nine team in the country.”
The loss comes two days after the team defeated Northwestern in four sets Friday.
IU had many players contribute in the win, highlighted by a .700 hitting percentage from junior Deyshia Lofton.
As IU looked to close it out down the stretch, Lofton stepped up in the fourth set by getting five kills within the first 10 points.
“I knew we had to do something to get the energy up to takeover the match,” Lofton said. “I put some balls away today and helped the team. That’s something we want to do every night.”
IU will play its first midweek match Wednesday when the team takes on Ohio State on the road.
“In the Big Ten you’ve got to be able to play whistle-to-whistle,” Aird said. “We’re going to lose a lot. We’re going to have to get up and be a pro the next day.”
IU has a 10-3 record now and hasn’t lost back-to-back games yet this season.
“The Big Ten’s the best conference, so it’s like this every night,” senior Elizabeth Asdell said. “We have to learn from it and do better the next time.”
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