Down one point in its fourth set Sunday against Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, Indiana volleyball sophomore outside hitter Grae Gosnell made a kill to tie the score at 21 apiece. While Indiana put up a fight in the last few points of the fourth set, a kill by Northwestern won them the set 25-22, with Indiana losing the match 3-1.
Gosnell led Indiana in kills with 11 against Northwestern. Gonsell’s playing time so far this season includes an appearance in the Southeast Missouri State University and Chicago State University games, as well as recording three kills in Indiana’s win over Alabama A&M University.
“We brought in Grae for her first real collegiate look and I thought she did a really nice job and provided some energy and some offense which was good,” Aird said.
Indiana won its second set against Northwestern 25-21 but fell short in the first and third with scores of 25-20 and 25-19. Northwestern’s junior outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara led with 24 kills in the match.
“Northwestern played well especially in the red zone when they had to make plays,” Aird said. “We had a real hard time with Temi, who is a fantastic talent. Although we did everything in our power to try to get people in front of her and try to dig her, she just had a tremendous match and sometimes that happens.”
Indiana also lost to Northwestern 3-1 on Oct. 30 and despite losing again in their second matchup, Aird said he saw improvement and wants to continue working on passing and serving.
“I thought we played better than our first meeting with them in Bloomington,” Aird said. “Obviously I would've liked to have won for sure but I think we did some good things and I thought we grew this week a lot.”
On Friday night, Indiana faced Iowa University in Iowa City, Iowa, dropping the game in four sets.
“It was an interesting environment, Iowa played one of the best matches of the year,” Aird said. “I thought for long stretches of the match we did some really good things.”
Iowa took the lead in set one and Aird called a timeout with Indiana down 8-3. Iowa stayed up the remainder of the set, winning 25-18.
In set two Indiana took a 6-1 lead and Iowa took their first timeout down 12-5. Indiana won set two 25-17. The Hoosiers fell short in sets three and four however, losing 25-20 and 25-23.
Indiana took a 9-3 lead early on and then tied the score 19-19 in set four. Finally, a kill by Iowa’s Amiya Jones gave them a 24-23 advantage. Indiana challenged the ball but Iowa kept the point, winning the match 3-1.
Aird said he saw fantastic performances from senior outside hitter Breana Edwards and the middles.
Indiana had 53 kills compared to Iowa’s 61. Senior outside hitter Breana Edwards led Indiana with 19. Iowa’s Edina Schmidt had 19 while Courtney Buzzerio had 18.
“I’m really proud of the group, I thought they competed like crazy in both matches,” Aird said. “We had a great practice on Saturday in Chicago and I think they’re learning what it takes to have success at this level and I think the last thing to come is the wins. I think we’re doing the work and the attitudes were great so I was proud of the kids no question.”
After the two matchups, Indiana stands with a 3-10 conference record and is 9-16 overall.
Next up the Hoosiers will take on Illinois at 8 p.m. Nov. 12 in Champaign, Illinois.