Last weekend, IU head coach Steve Aird mentioned a recent lack of competition in the IU-Purdue volleyball rivalry. It was one that he hopes to rejuvenate, resulting in more “barnburner” matches.
In Wednesday’s battle of the two in-state foes, anyone who looks at the scoresheet knows the match fit the exact description of Aird’s hopes: a barnburner.
Ultimately, the Hoosiers fell just short to the Boilermakers in five, hard-fought sets — 24-26, 25-16, 18-25, 26-24, 13-15 — a match that was flooded with long rallies and diving bodies. Although it would have been IU’s first win over the Boilermakers since 2012, it is now the third straight match between IU and Purdue that has gone to five sets.
“I don’t feel bad at all about our effort,” Aird said. “You’re competitive; you want to win. But at the end of the day, I’m really proud of my kids. I thought they battled, and it was a great college volleyball match.”
All across the scoreboard, IU and Purdue were neck-and-neck Wednesday night. While IU’s hitting percentage of .175 narrowly eclipsed Purdue’s .168, the Boilermakers had two more kills than the Hoosiers. And while Purdue had three more digs than IU, the Hoosiers out-blocked the Boilermakers 17-13.
In the serving game, the story continued. IU had three more aces than Purdue but also had two more serving errors. Purdue’s two-point margin of victory perfectly reflected how close of a match it was — in all facets.
All night long, the IU seniors pulled their weight in the intense rivalry match. The senior trio of Deyshia Lofton, Megan Sloan and Jacqui Armer combined for 31 kills and 18 blocks, while each of them hit above .250 as individuals. Senior setter Victoria Brisack led the Hoosiers with 24 assists and added eight digs.
“At the end of the day, they just were two points better than us,” Armer said. “We just go in, and we work like we’re working toward two points every single day.”
For Wilkinson Hall’s first edition of the IU-Purdue rivalry, IU announced a “Red Out” for the match. Wednesday night’s crowd ended up being the largest recorded attendance in the arena’s early history with 2,313 filling the stands.
“When I took the job and we knew that we’d have this building, we were hoping to have a crowd like that,” Aird said. “Very thankful and grateful for the community coming out. The student section was great.”
The loss for IU drops the Hoosiers to 12-6 overall and 1-4 in conference. Now a quarter of the way through the Big Ten season, IU will hit the road for two straight weekends and play three matches against No. 17 Illinois, Maryland and Iowa. The Hoosiers aren’t back home until Oct. 25, when No. 5 Nebraska comes to Bloomington.
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