IU volleyball brought a two-game winning streak into its match against Maryland on Sunday.
In those two wins against Rutgers and Ohio State, IU did not lose a set. However, that all came to an end when Maryland swept IU at University Gym.
“A tough loss for me because I want to be competitive, and I didn’t think we were that competitive, so that’s on me,” IU Coach Steve Aird said. “Obviously I didn’t do a great job getting us ready.”
IU had no answer for sophomore outside hitter Erika Pritchard who picked up 20 kills for Maryland.
Playing in the Big Ten, IU often goes up against some of the best athletes in the NCAA, but the defense could not handle Pritchard, who had a .354 hitting percentage.
“She’s a really long player, which is awesome for an outside hitter,” junior setter Victoria Brisack said. “It was hard to get a good angle on her defensively and blocking. Credit to her because she did a fantastic job of staying really high and aggressive all night.”
Sophomore outside hitter Kamryn Malloy led IU with nine kills to go along with the 12 digs she had.
However, she had three of the team’s 18 attack errors which she said was due in large part to challenges presented by the Maryland defense.
“They’re super scrappy,” Malloy said. “You saw them never give up on balls. I think that we did that sometimes, but it wasn’t an all the time thing.”
Pritchard, along with most everyone on the Maryland roster, was a recruit brought in by Aird during his time as the team’s head coach.
Aird coached the Terrapins from 2014-2017 before he was hired as IU’s coach in December. Maryland Coach Adam Hughes worked with Aird for more than a decade, including being an assistant alongside him during his Maryland tenure.
“I’m really happy for them,” Aird said. “You can be happy for people and still feel upset that you didn’t get it done.”
The relationship between the two extends off the court as well, as Hughes was the best man for Aird’s wedding.
“I’m thrilled for him,” Aird said. “I think he’s a great guy. At the end of the day, he did a great job getting his team and his program ready.”
IU’s attention will need to switch quickly as the team will face No. 4 Penn State on Friday.
The team is now halfway through conference play and has a 4-6 record in the Big Ten to go along with a 13-8 record overall.
“At the beginning of the season it’s all about people trying to figure out their systems and what their identity for that year is,” Brisack said. “As you go along, everyone gets better and you have to get better. You have to get better fast.”