IU volleyball will face Purdue Tuesday with a losing record of 70-34. IU is 2-8 on the season after falling to No. 8 Penn State, while Purdue is 6-4, most recently beating Northwestern.
“They’re an excellent team, great ball control. They’ve got a bunch of arms and a great setter,” head coach Steve Aird said. “It’s a really important match to a lot of people in the state.”
Aird is approaching Tuesday with a different mindset than most fans in the state. He wants his players to understand its importance, but it’s also not something he has starred on the calendar, he said.
“It certainly matters a ton, but if I want to underscore anything it’s that we have to get better,” he said. “This program has to get better for it to become a rivalry.”
Purdue is currently ranked fourth in the Big Ten in hitting percentage at .251. Senior outside hitter Caitlyn Newton leads the team with 153 kills and is third in the conference with 4.25 kills per set.
The Boilermakers also have multiple players in the top ten in the conference for hitting percentage, aces, digs and blocks. Freshman middle blocker Taylor Trammell is ninth with 1.11 blocks per set.
“Everyone’s just really emphasizing that this is going to be a game where both teams are going to be fighting and scrapping and working so hard to win,” freshman middle blocker Leyla Blackwell said. “We’re ready for it.”
This matchup is a deviation from the usual back-to-back matches scheduled this season. The teams will play Tuesday in Bloomington and Sunday in West Lafayette, Indiana.
In a season full of firsts for the young Hoosier team, this quick turnaround is yet another one, Aird said. With only two days since the last match against Penn State, there is less time to scout Purdue and prepare during practice.
“There’s a different type of mental stamina that you need to be good in this conference,” Aird said. “I think we’re learning that on the fly.”
Aird tried to get his players the right amount of information in the practices leading up to Tuesday, saying he doesn’t want to overload them but they can’t afford to take days off.
“We’re all learning together,” he said. “Regardless of how much time we have to prep or how we feel, it’s all about competing as hard you can.”