Looking to end a seven-game losing skid, IU volleyball faced the wrong team to do so Sunday as No. 4 Wisconsin visited Bloomington. The Badgers came in as the only unbeaten team in the Big Ten, and they showed the Hoosiers why.
Wisconsin beat IU for the second time this season, this time in straight sets (25-18, 25-12, 25-17). The Badgers hit .337 on the match thanks to a balanced attack where four players had seven or more kills.
IU, on the other hand, struggled to find offense and hit .073 with no players totaling double-digit kills. The Hoosiers had 43 digs as a team, a number that head coach Steve Aird said he hopes to see rise.
For IU, the focus remains finding more consistency throughout matches, no matter the opponent.
“For us, it’s just the ability to sustain good moments over time,” head coach Steve Aird said. “I think at times we play really hard and do some really good things. It’s about being able to do it over time, especially with pressure against a good team.”
The win moves Wisconsin to a 16-4 overall and 12-0 in conference. It has been over six weeks since the Badgers last lost a match.
IU’s loss moves it to 12-13 overall and 1-11 in conference, tied for last in the conference with Northwestern. The loss also puts its overall record under .500 for the first time this season.
“When teams go through losing streaks, there’s a lot of finger pointing,” Aird said. “I don’t sense that with this group. I’m upset that I can’t find a way for us to play a little bit cleaner at times."
Now approaching a month since its last victory, IU will travel east next weekend and look for its second conference win against No. 7 Penn State on Friday and Rutgers on Saturday.
As a Penn State alum, Friday’s match in State College will hold a lot of meaning to Aird.
“It’s a place that I care about,” Aird said. “I think the best way you ever show respect to something is to play as hard and be as prepared as you can.”
For freshman setter Emily Fitzner, she believes the road to ending IU’s losing streak begins with simply getting back in the gym.
“Just stay motivated and keep working every single day in practice,” Fitzner said. “Just to get one percent better.”