IU volleyball lost both matches to No. 5 Nebraska last weekend, putting the Hoosiers at 0-2 on the season.
They’ll look for their first win with matches this Friday and Saturday against Rutgers, who is also 0-2 after facing Northwestern. IU has a 12-0 record against Rutgers extending all the way back to 1980.
These will be IU’s first away matches of the season and Rutgers’ first time playing at home this season at College Ave Gym in New Brunswick, NJ.
While Rutgers may be unranked and not as nationally renowned as Nebraska, IU head coach Steve Aird has said repeatedly that anyone can win in the Big Ten, and his team must be on top of their game at all times.
“There’s not a ton of film out there,” Aird said. “They’re going to be good at home.”
After their first matches, the statistics for both teams are very similar. The Hoosiers have a total of 57 kills and 60 digs this season while the Scarlet Knights have 54 kills and 57 digs, signs that point toward a competitive matchup.
Three players on both teams also recorded 10 or more kills this past weekend. For IU, freshmen outside hitters Tommi Stockham and Morgan Geddes and junior outside hitter Breana Edwards recorded 10 or more kills. For Rutgers, senior right-side hitters Beka Kojadinovic and Kamila Cieslik and junior outside hitter Anastasiia Maksimova recorded 10 or more kills as well.
Freshmen continue to lead the way for IU, offensively and defensively. Stockham leads the team with 18 kills and Geddes has a team high attacking percentage of .240. Middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede had an impressive showing against No. 5 Nebraska with eight kills, one solo block and three service aces.
“All of the freshmen are just really really excited,” Kjolhede said. “There’s eight of us and we have so much room to get better and it is so exciting to see.”
While putting up a strong fight against Nebraska, the Hoosiers still struggled, recording a significant amount of blocking and digging errors and 17 service errors. For Aird, defense was of primary importance going into the new week.
“We learned a lot, had a ton of film,” Aird said. “We’ve had a great three days of training.”
Another notable storyline in this matchup comes with Rutgers’ new head coach Caitlin Schweihofer. Schweihofer has a reputation for elevating the programs she works with, most recently leading Northeastern to its best hitting percentage in 11 years.
Schweihofer has been involved in coaching collegiate-level volleyball since 2012. While playing as a middle blocker at St. John’s University, Schweihofer was named the Big East Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2006. That same year, her team went undefeated in conference play and won the Big East championship.
“I know she’s an awfully good coach,” Aird said. “I know what it’s like to take over a program and take over quickly. If they have a good night, they’re going to put a ton of pressure on us.”