Indiana volleyball kicked off its Big Ten Conference schedule this weekend, taking on No. 7 Purdue and Michigan State at Wilkinson Hall in Bloomington. Indiana beat Michigan State and lost to Purdue, both of which were three-set matches.
The Hoosiers started the weekend with a win against Michigan State in a tight three-set match with scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-20 on Friday night.
“Obviously, we would’ve liked to close it out a little faster,” head coach Steve Aird said. “Any team in the Big Ten is going to keep fighting from the first whistle to the last whistle, and Michigan State always plays hard so credit to them.”
Starters, senior outside hitter Kari Zumach and junior middle Kaley Rammelsberg were both back on the court for Indiana after suffering injuries earlier in the season. Aird said this was the first time the starting lineup was intact all season. He said having the full starting lineup, along with serves by freshman outside hitter Mady Seris to close out the second game, made for a great match.
Aird said he gives all credit to his team for working through a tough week, staying committed and doing things the right way in the Michigan State game.
“They were phenomenal,” Aird said. “I think when we don’t have a lot of success, sometimes as a coach I could’ve been better in some of those matches pulling the strings, but tonight it was about them. When we needed people to step up and perform we had players do it.”
Senior outside hitter Breana Edwards said she was proud of the team for giving 100%, especially after coming off of a tough week battling sickness and injuries.
“I think it shows everyone that we have it in us,” Edwards said. “Even though maybe people don’t see that from our record in preseason, I think we proved it tonight that we can hang in there and we’re a good volleyball team.”
Following its win on Friday, Indiana lost to Purdue in a three-set match on Sunday with scores of 25-17, 25-14 and 25-20.
Aird said he was disappointed in the performance of the game, but that Purdue is a very confident and experienced group who he expects to have control over matches with a lot of teams this year.
“When we play that flat and not that well I think it falls on my shoulders,” Aird said. “I’ve got to get the team ready to roll and get them up for the event. We played Friday night and tried to get a game plan on Saturday and clearly I didn’t do a very good job of getting us to where we needed to be.”
The Hoosiers tied the score several times with strong plays by sophomore Camryn Haworth, but couldn’t take the lead against the Boilermakers. Aird said he was disappointed with the team’s execution, but a lot of it was because Purdue is an excellent opponent.
On the other side of it, the stuff we can control, I thought we could’ve done a little bit better,” Aird said.
In its third set against Purdue, Indiana tightened the gap by scoring several points. Aird said the crowd at Wilkinson Hall was going crazy when they started to fight at the end of the game and thought the environment was great.
“It’s one match,” Aird said. “We’re 1-1 in the Big Ten at the end of the weekend so it’s not the end of the world but we need to learn from it.”
Indiana moves to 7-7 this season after a 1-1 start to Big Ten play. The team will play Ohio State at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio in its next match. Ohio State is 10-2 this season and 0-2 in the Big Ten.