From a wins and losses perspective, it was a tough weekend for IU volleyball.
The Hoosiers took on No. 3 Minnesota and No. 8 Wisconsin on back-to-back nights on the road, and they did not win a set en route to an 0-2 weekend.
However, IU Coach Steve Aird continued to stress the idea that a team that went 1-19 in the Big Ten last season should not be worried about wins and losses during a rebuilding year.
“It’s tough relative to what are the expectations, if people thought we were going to sweep both matches,” Aird said. “That’s not what our program’s expectations are. We want to compete, be in games and have the opportunity to gather experience.”
Earlier this season IU was swept by then-No.5 Nebraska. As usual, Aird was not upset with the loss. Rather, he was upset with the team’s inability to compete and make the match interesting.
This weekend, he did not have that same feeling.
“Four of the six games that we played, I thought we competed,” Aird said. “That’s relative, because the other teams are really good. The difference is consistency and the ability to do things over and over again at a high level against really good opponents.”
With four games remaining on the regular season schedule, IU is still a contender for postseason play.
The Hoosiers were ranked No. 57 in the RPI rankings coming into the weekend.
“The fact that it’s going to be mid-November and we still have an opportunity to be on the bubble and have that discussion is remarkable,” Aird said. “We’ve got an opportunity down the stretch to pick off a few teams and be in the conversation.”
In the match with Wisconsin, junior middle blocker Deyshia Lofton moved into fourth all-time for career solo blocks in school history.
“She’s got a long way to go until she reaches her potential,” Aird said. “We’re going to talk about that a lot, especially in the offseason.”
On the macro-level of the program, Aird has begun to focus on recruiting and continuing to build a culture of strong volleyball at IU.
With the season winding down, Aird said he has noticed a shift in how recruits view IU and looks forward to the players he will have the next few years.
“It’s way ahead of where I thought it would be, especially only eight or nine months in,” Aird said. “Really quickly we’re going to be adding some pieces that will get people’s attention. I feel like the school has done a great job in making volleyball a priority.”
Three of the remaining four games for IU will be at home. The team will be away from competitive play until Friday and Saturday when it plays host to Iowa and No. 6 Nebraska.
That will be followed by a midweek match Nov. 21 at home against No. 12 Purdue and the final match will be Nov. 23 at Northwestern.