Entering senior night against No. 12 Purdue, IU volleyball's match will have higher implications than most expected coming into the season.
IU completed last season with a 1-19 record in the regular season. If IU wins against Purdue on Wednesday and at Northwestern on Friday, the team will have a 9-11 record in conference play this season and a shot at the postseason.
“If we would’ve told them we’d be in this position with a couple matches to go, I think everyone would’ve signed up for it,” IU Coach Steve Aird said. “We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us to try to pad the resume.”
The last time the team finished a season with nine or more Big Ten wins was in 2010, which is also the last time the team made a postseason appearance.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on us,” Aird said. “To be in a meaningful match the last weekend of the Big Ten season and to have something to play for really late in the year is a great step forward for the program.”
IU pushed Purdue to five sets on the road Nov. 3.
Earlier this season IU played five sets with then-No. 16 Michigan before winning the battle at home. However, Aird said that just because IU can push a team five sets on the road, that does not mean a win at home is set to happen.
“At the end of the day, it comes back to people making plays at key times,” Aird said. “Our approach has always just been the next match.”
IU will need to handle multiple emotions Wednesday. Along with the pressure of a must-win game, IU will be playing its final home game which means it will be a chance to recognize seniors Elizabeth Asdell and Samantha Fogg.
“They represented Indiana really well over their careers,” Aird said. “They’re both going to get incredible opportunities after leaving Indiana.”
In 111 total sets played by IU, Asdell has been in all but five while Fogg has only been in 45. However, Aird said he still appreciates what she has offered to the team.
“When you’re getting better as a team and developing, you’re going to have people that play more than others, but you have to have everyone ready to answer the call,” Aird said. “She’s not afraid. She’s a tough kid.”
Asdell will look to continue her career in dental school, while Fogg will look to continue in the business world after a summer internship with Bank of America in Indianapolis.
Whether on the court or on the bench, Fogg has clearly been one of the more vocal players during matches. With the student section gone for break, the team was still able to have more than 1,000 fans at each game the past weekend.
“I love how much the student section has brought to our program, but I understand that it’s going to take a few more years before people are changing Thanksgiving plans to stay,” Aird said. “The building was live and had good energy, but the students make such a difference. I’m excited about Wednesday.”
First serve for both matches will be at 7 p.m.
IU defeated Northwestern to open Big Ten play Sept. 21. Following the Northwestern match, IU will wait for Sunday to see whether or not it has been selected for postseason play.