For just the second time this season, No. 5 Nebraska was coming off a loss after dropping a home match against then-No. 5 Minnesota on Saturday.
Just as the Cornhuskers did after their first loss, the team came back Wednesday and won its next game in straight sets — this time against IU.
“If you don’t play great, it’s going to be hard to stay in the match,” Aird said. “The truth is they probably weren’t concerned with us. They’re worried about their side of the court and tightening it up.”
Nebraska showed why it is the reigning champ in the first set, taking it 25-13. However, the Hoosiers showed some fight in the second set, but the Cornhuskers took the set 30-28.
It was the longest set of the season for both teams.
“I thought Nebraska made a bunch of errors in game two, but we played better and we were brave and took some good swings,” Aird said. “That’s a good thing to look back at, but it’s about consistency. When you play in this conference against teams that are elite, you’ve got to be able to do things over and over again at a really high level.”
Nebraska would take the third set 25-11.
Heading into the match, Aird said his team needed to be aggressive serving the ball even if it meant more service errors. The Hoosiers would end the match with eight service errors and two service aces.
“I’m OK with a few errors as long as we’re doing it the right way and trying to be aggressive,” Aird said. “Some of the errors tonight were egregious and our skill level has to be better. At the same time, you can’t just hit easy serves with really good teams.”
Nebsraka has had 248 consecutive sellouts and has made a name for itself as one of the toughest road environments in the nation.
“It’s hard to recreate the arena and the atmosphere,” Aird said. “That’s what we’re hoping to do with the new arena, to make it a really hard place to play.”
With junior outside hitter Kendall Beerman out for the season due to a torn ACL, the IU rotation has been thin.
Freshman middle blocker Lexi Johnson spent some time playing outside hitter in order to try filling the void, and she finished the match with four kills and two errors on nine attacks.
“We want to move Lexi around,” Aird said. “Athletically, she’s got great upside. We’re trying to get her the ball more and teach her a whole bunch of stuff quickly.”
With this midweek match, IU will have a quick turnaround and face Rutgers at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at University Gym.
“It’s what the conference is, so you don’t have a lot of time to train,” Aird said. “It’s an important thing to understand that you’ve got to get back up off the mat and train and go about it the right way. I want everyday-ers.”
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