After snapping a nine-match losing streak last Saturday, IU volleyball is back in action this weekend with home matches against Maryland and Ohio State.
Friday’s match versus Maryland starts at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s match versus Ohio State begins at 5 p.m. Ahead of the two conference matches, here are three things to know.
In Saturday’s three-set win over Rutgers, IU swayed from its usual 6-2 offensive system and played a 5-1 system instead.
Using freshman setter Emily Fitzner as the lone setter, IU found success and put up strong offensive numbers against the Scarlet Knights. Fitzner finished the game with a season-high 36 assists as IU hit .359 as a team.
“I’m pretty comfortable, but I definitely think that it takes a lot of practice to keep getting better,” Fitzner said about the new system.
With six conference matches still left, it remains to be seen whether IU head coach Steve Aird rides the success of the 6-1 or defaults back to the Hoosiers’ usual 6-2.
Chance for revenge
Lost in the story of IU’s brutal nine-match losing streak was just how close some of its matches were. One of those matches came against Maryland, who the Hoosiers welcome to Wilkinson Hall this weekend.
On Oct. 16, IU jumped out to a two-set lead against Maryland, who then stormed back and stole the match, winning the fifth set 15-12.
After dropping that match, IU went on to lose its next six while only winning three sets in that same span. Now the Hoosiers have the chance to get back at the Terrapins, who are trending in the wrong direction.
Maryland has lost five straight matches, all of which were in straight sets. It now sits in 10th place in the Big Ten with a 4-10 record.
Saturday’s matchup against Ohio State will be the first and only meeting between the Hoosiers and Buckeyes. Ohio State is currently eighth in the Big Ten with a 6-8 record and will play Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, this Friday.
Despite being only 2-12 in conference, Aird remains hopeful for a chance at the NCAA Tournament for his team, depending on how it finishes the season.
“If we go 4-2 down the stretch, you can make the tournament,” Aird said. “We’ve got a bunch of good top-100 wins.”
Currently, IU is ranked 99th in the RPI rankings with chances to improve down the stretch. After opening conference play against numerous ranked opponents, only one of IU’s six remaining opponents — Penn State — is currently ranked.
If IU were to make the 64-team field, it would be the sixth time in program history and the first since 2010.