Indiana volleyball lost to No. 14 Penn State on Saturday night at Wilkinson Hall. Indiana forced a four-set match by winning the second set, but Penn State won the first, third and fourth.
Indiana moved to 7-9 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten this season.
Indiana tied the score several times in the first set, but fell short to Penn State, losing it 26-24.
“I thought we had a real opportunity in game one and game four,” head coach Steve Aird said. “I’m really disappointed we couldn’t get that done, but I’m proud of the group. That’s obviously a really good team and I thought we pressed them.”
After losing the first set, the Hoosiers came back in the second, scoring the first point in set two to win the set 25-20. Aird said it was one of the best sets they had played all season.
Indiana lost the third set 25-16. Aird said the team folded in this set, but outside this set, he thought it was a really competitive match.
“When the other team plays really well, it's part of the game,” Aird said. “We battled back which I respected.”
Indiana battled back in set four after being down to start, but would eventually lose the final set 25-22.
Coming into the match, Aird said he thought serving and passing were going to be key in this game, but the serving still fell short.
“When you play a top 10 team you have to serve great, you can’t just serve good,” Aird said.
Defensive specialist junior Haley Armstrong returned to the court against Penn State after being out for the past week. Aird said having both Armstrong and junior Paula Cerame, who won over the libero jersey this season, available in the back row gives the team a lot of opportunity. The two combined for 31 digs against Penn State.
“We were really bad against Purdue. We started to play better against Ohio State and kind of built on that,” Aird said. “Tonight, I thought we were better, so we’re improving. It’s three losses but I think we got better through it.”
While Indiana volleyball is not a top 10 or 20 program, Aird said he believes in his players.
“They come in early, they stay late, and I think they’re playing better volleyball every week,” Aird said.
Indiana’s next matchup is on the road against Rutgers at 7 p.m. Friday in Piscataway, New Jersey. Indiana will look to improve its 1-3 record in conference play against Rutgers, which is 0-4 in the Big Ten this season.