IU volleyball, 3-11, swept Maryland, 2-10, on Friday night to earn its first home win of the season, playing strong and keeping energy high. It was unable to repeat that Saturday and fell in four close sets.
The Hoosiers got their first home win of the season Friday in three sets by scores of 27-25, 25-22, 25-19. There was a significant increase in the consistency of the Hoosiers’ offense, who hit .258 on the night.
“When we control the ball, especially with four or five freshmen, it shows you a little bit of a glimpse of where we’re headed,” head coach Steve Aird said. “People can be excited about the future, that’s for sure.”
Freshman outside hitter Tommi Stockham and junior outside hitter Breana Edwards both posted 10 kills, combining to make up half of IU’s 40 total kills. Freshman outside hitter Morgan Geddes also had an impressive night with eight kills and a season-high three aces.
IU was down in the first set 16-12 but came back after a timeout to score 5 of the next 6 points, tying the game at 17 with a block by freshman middle blocker Leyla Blackwell.
“I’m really proud of us for fighting back,” Edwards said. “We could’ve just rolled over and we didn’t.”
The second and third sets stayed close, but the energy on IU’s side of the court seemed to rattle Maryland as the night continued. IU’s back-court defense was alert and stopped several opportunities for Maryland kills.
The Hoosiers and Terrapins both fell victim to service errors. They recorded 11 and 15, respectively, and the Hoosiers clinched the match on a service error.
“We had a lot of service errors in the match, which I was disappointed about,” Aird said. “But Emily came in in all three games and served great, and added energy and scored points.”
Aird praised sophomore setter Emily Fitzner in the post-game press conference, and said he thought she won them the second set. Aird had senior setter Brooke Westbeld set most of the night, choosing to have Fitzner serve more.
“When they go from having a bigger role to a lesser role, it’s all about them. Emily’s not like that,” Aird said. “She’s an incredible person and a great teammate.”
The Hoosiers started their Saturday match with similar energy, even though they lost the first set 25-23. They came back to win the second 25-23 but lost the next two 25-17 and 25-21.
IU struggled defensively at times, leaving holes in the back row for Maryland to hit strong kills. Maryland also improved its blocking from the night before, tallying 16 total blocks. Nine blocks alone came against Stockham.
“It’s my fault,” Aird said. “The reality is we weren’t ready to go. I thought we dug ourselves a hole. We were battling through two games and then I thought in game three we went away from the game plan.”
Multiple outside hitters had issues Saturday, with Edwards hitting negative, Stockham at .000 with 10 kills and 10 errors and Geddes hitting .071. Westbeld also faced problems with consistency in her setting.
“Our pin attackers were hitting negative but the whole entire time I’m pointing the thumb because I’m the setter,” Westbeld said. “I need to put them in better situations because if I don’t, there’s not a lot they can do with the ball.”
Aird emphasized that the Terrapins were short-handed Friday night, saying they had to scramble to put together a lineup. It appeared that Maryland had more of its usual lineup Saturday, throwing IU off its game.
“I don’t want to blame the kids,” Aird said, “They’re working really hard, they’re playing really hard. At the end of the day, it’s my responsibility to put them in the right positions and make adjustments.”