After snapping a nine-match losing streak last weekend with a win at Rutgers, the IU volleyball team had a chance to build some momentum with Maryland and Ohio State visiting Bloomington this weekend. Despite flashes of winning volleyball in both matches, the Hoosiers were unable to do so.
IU lost a five-set heartbreaker to Maryland on Friday night the same way it lost back in October: by blowing a two set to none lead. A crazy back-and-forth fifth set, one that gave both sides numerous match points, ultimately fell in favor of the Terrapins. The win would've given the Hoosiers their first multiple-match winning streak of the conference season.
“In the process of building and doing what we’re trying to do, there’s a lot of heartbreak,” IU head coach Steve Aird said. “You go from getting totally blown out in matches, to heartbreaking losses, then you break through and you start winning some of the close games.”
Despite the difficult loss, history was made on the Hoosiers' side of the court. Sophomore outside hitter Breana Edwards hammered home a school-record 39 kills, all while hitting a staggering .386 percentage. The next highest Hoosier in kills was senior outside hitter Megan Sloan, who was 27 kills behind Edwards with 12 on the match.
“My team just had my back,” Edwards said. “Emily Fitzner put up amazing balls. I wouldn’t get those kills without her.”
Unfortunately for Edwards and IU, she was unavailable to play against Ohio State the following night with a foot injury. Her status moving forward is uncertain.
In Edwards’ absence, IU’s offense failed to get off to a quick start Saturday like it had Friday. Ohio State took the first two sets and despite a response from IU in set three, the Buckeyes finished off the Hoosiers in set four, 25-21. The loss dropped IU to 2-14 in conference, tied for last.
Redshirt senior Kendall Beerman played a bigger role for IU on Saturday amidst the loss of Edwards. She tallied 16 kills, but also had 16 attacking errors. Junior outside hitter Kamryn Malloy also saw an increase in attacking opportunities and she finished the night with 11 kills.
“I think that we didn’t play our best for long enough stretches,” Malloy said following the Ohio State loss. “We have to work on staying more consistent and evening out the lows and the highs.”
With close losses becoming a theme for IU this season, Aird and his group remained focused on breaking through in tight matches and tallying more wins.
“We’ve lost so many matches by two points,” Aird said. “The next progression of the program is just getting over the hump and being a little bit cleaner towards the end. We have it in us. It’s just the consistency of it on a day-in and day-out basis.”
The Hoosiers are back in action next week with two more home matches, this time against No. 8 Penn State on Wednesday and Michigan State on Sunday. IU lost to Penn State on Nov. 8 but has not faced Michigan State yet this season.