Indiana volleyball returned to Wilkinson Hall for the first time this season Thursday and Friday and played three straight-set matches at the Indiana Invitational.
Indiana beat Alabama A&M University and lost to Chicago State University and the University of Mississippi.
In their first game on Thursday night, the Hoosiers started off strong, defeating the Bulldogs in three sets with scores of 25-8, 25-12 and 25-17. Senior outside hitter Breana Edwards made the 1,000th kill of her career during the match.
After a strong start to the tournament on Thursday, Indiana lost to Chicago State on Friday morning in straight sets with scores of 25-21, 28-26 and 25-23. Indiana battled in all three sets, tying the score several times, but failed to take the lead.
“I think teams that are winning have a tendency to play with confidence and find a way to win,” Aird said. ”Teams that are struggling, especially from 20 on, have a hard time closing out games.”
Friday evening Indiana faced Ole Miss, who came in with a 10-0 record after beating Alabama A&M in a three-set match on Friday afternoon. Indiana lost to Ole Miss in another three set match with scores of 25-22, 25-22 and 26-24.
Aird said it was disappointing to lose by only 8 points overall, but that the team put up a better fight than it did that morning.
“I thought we had a particularly bad night serving and that was really the story,” Aird said. “It's something we’ll get back in the gym and start to think about more on Monday. It's especially disappointing in your home gym, you should be able to serve the ball better than the other team. I think part of it was mental, so that was rough.”
Coming into the tournament after losing three matches at the Georgia Tech Classic last weekend, head coach Steve Aird said he was ready to play at home in a fun environment. The student section showed up with a costume theme, and Aird said he was pleased by the atmosphere and attendance both nights of the tournament.
Aird said Indiana trained hard with challenging practices after returning from Georgia, including spending some time in the mud, working on each player's weaknesses from the weekend prior.
“As a player it's tough, you want to do the things you’re comfortable with,” Aird said. “But as the coach, you like to put them in situations that aren’t exactly fun.”
Junior middle blocker Kaley Rammelsberg rested since Monday due to an injury, but was back on the court in the Ole Miss match. However, outside hitter Kari Zumach still was unable to play this weekend with an ankle injury.
“Those two players on the court change the dynamic of the team completely because they’re upperclassmen who have played the game and they’re both solid,” Aird said. “I think once we get the full team together and we get rolling, we’ll have a little more confidence.”
Indiana fell to 6-6 this season after posting a 1-2 record this weekend. Indiana will play Michigan State in its next match Sept. 24 at home to kick off its Big Ten schedule.
“Our goal is to keep trying to compete like crazy,” Aird said. “I think there's times during the match when you can tell the crowd really appreciates how hard we play. I think passion and how hard we play really have to be the cornerstone of the program and we’ll get technically better and cleaner as we keep going.”