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Volleyball remains on the bubble after splitting weekend



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Sophomore outside hitter Kamryn Malloy floats the ball over the net against two Nebraska defenders Nov. 17 in University Gym. IU lost to Nebraska in straight sets, changing its season record to 16-13. Steven Lin Buy Photos

It was another split weekend for IU volleyball after defeating Iowa on Friday and getting swept by No. 6 Nebraska on Saturday.

IU’s record is now 16-13 overall and 7-11 in conference play. As the team is on the bubble for a postseason spot, IU will likely need wins in its final two games against Purdue and Northwestern to extend the season.

“We want to prove to coach that we have his back, and we’re ready to compete,” freshman Breana Edwards said. “We do want it as much as we say we do.”

The weekend got out to a quick start as IU picked up the first two sets against Iowa. However, the Hawkeyes fought back to force a fifth set against the Hoosiers.

“We were pretty good out of the gate, but I thought we were awfully bad in three and four,” IU Coach Steve Aird said. “They punched us in the mouth. I didn’t think we had anything to fight back. This program is learning not to roll over, and we came back and competed in the fifth game.”

Despite the comeback from Iowa, IU controlled the fifth set, taking it 15-8.

“At this time of the year, it really is about will over skill at times,” Aird said. “They’re a tough team to compete against. I like teams that are up for the battle.”

Numerous Hoosiers stuffed the stat sheet against the Hawkeyes. Edwards matched her career high in kills with 23 while sophomore Kamryn Malloy set a career high in kills with 19.

“I though Breana was amazing tonight for a young kid,” Aird said. “From where that kid’s come from at the start of year to where she is now is phenomenal.”

Sophomore libero Bayli Lebo recorded 31 digs, but it was her one kill — just her fourth of the season — that stood out in the box score.

“It’s not a crazy kill that’s straight down, but it’s just a hustle play that people recognize,” Lebo said. “It’s plays like that, that set the energy and the momentum toward our side.”

IU did not have much time to celebrate the win as the team had to face Nebraska the next night.

The matchup between the Hoosiers and Cornhuskers was the second time the teams have met this season, and both have ended in sweeps.

“The gap between them and us is real,” Aird said. “The kids competed, we just didn’t quite have enough. At the end of the day, they’re hoping to do some big things and we’re hoping to get better and be competitive.”

The statistics were much different in the second weekend match as no IU players recorded double-digit kills.

Lebo recorded 11 digs against Nebraska, which puts her second on the program’s list for digs in a single season.

“Coach has emphasized so much to go after everything no matter what,” Lebo said. “The hustle and the effort is a lot higher than last year.”

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