Indiana Daily Student

Three things to know before IU volleyball plays No. 8 Penn State and Michigan State

<p>IU senior Victoria Brisack sets the ball against Purdue on Oct. 9 at Wilkinson Hall. IU plays No. 8 Penn State Wednesday night.</p>

IU senior Victoria Brisack sets the ball against Purdue on Oct. 9 at Wilkinson Hall. IU plays No. 8 Penn State Wednesday night.

Last weekend, IU volleyball lost two home matches to Maryland and Ohio State, dropping its conference record to 2-14 and putting it in a three-way tie for last place.

Now, IU’s last two home matches await. No. 8 Penn State comes to town Wednesday night, and Michigan State plays the Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon. Ahead of these two matchups, here are three things to know:

Now or never

Before last weekend’s matches, head coach Steve Aird said he still thinks his team has a chance at the NCAA tournament. He mentioned a record of 4-2 to finish the year would help put the team in the conversation.

After suffering two losses last weekend, that means his team would have to win its last four matches to hit that 4-2 record.

The bad news for the Hoosiers is last weekend may have been two of its better chances to pick up victories down the stretch, as they were facing two mid-to-lower table conference opponents. 

Still remaining on the schedule is Penn State, Michigan State twice and Michigan. The Spartans are the only team with a losing conference record among those schools.

The matchups

When Penn State plays IU in Bloomington on Wednesday night, it will be the second meeting between the two schools. The first came less than two weeks ago, where the Nittany Lions won in straight sets on their home court.

Since then, Penn State hasn’t lost a match. It enters on a four-match winning streak and is looking to catch Wisconsin, which sits one game ahead in the Big Ten championship race.

Michigan State, on the other hand, has gone down a similar path to that of IU. The Spartans come in losing eight of their last nine and are down to 5-11 in conference. Sunday’s matchup will be the first of two between IU and Michigan State.

IU’s attack

Last Friday, sophomore outside hitter Breana Edwards sent home a school-record 39 kills in the team’s loss to Maryland. The very next night, she had to watch on the sidelines with a boot on as her team lost to Ohio State in four sets.

Edwards’ status for this week is unclear, but what is clear is her importance to what IU does offensively. By consistently putting up double-digit kill games, it’s become apparent how much of the IU offense runs through her.

If Edwards is unable to go, the Hoosiers will look to rely more on redshirt senior outside hitter Kendall Beerman and senior outside hitter Megan Sloan.

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