Indiana volleyball heads into conference play this weekend with a bang, as the Hoosiers face their first top-ten ranked team of the season in undefeated No. 9 Penn State on Friday and Maryland on Sunday
The Nittany Lions are guided by first year head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley, a former Penn State assistant coach. Sophomore outside hitter Anjelina Starck, senior outside hitter Zoe Weatherington and graduate student outside hitter Kashauna Williams all have over 100 kills this season.
In the Big Ten/PAC-12 Challenge, Penn State faced No. 11 Stanford University and No. 18 University of Oregon. With the help of graduate student setter Seleisa Elisaia, the Nittany Lions won the match 3-2 against the Cardinal.
Penn State's matchup against Oregon was a back-and-forth battle, and neither team could win two sets in a row. However, Penn State came out on top in the fifth set 15–9, enabling them to win the match 3-2.
Indiana will face Maryland at home on Sunday. The Terrapins have a 9-3 record and are looking for their first conference win Friday night against Illinois.
Graduate student middle blocker Rainelle Jones leads Maryland with her defense, highlighted by 77 total blocks this season. The Terrapins as a collective average 3.38 blocks per set.
Indiana will have to be mindful of Maryland’s powerful outside hitter duo --- junior outside hitter Sam Csire and freshman outside hitter Laila Ivey have a combined 261 kills on the season.
Head coach Steve Aird is enthusiastic to start conference play. Aird acknowledged how difficult it is to win the Big Ten, but he said he looks forward to the challenge.
“We’re all excited for the opportunity to compete,” Aird said. “20 matches in the Big Ten and you get the opportunity to test yourself against the nation’s best. All things considered, I thought we had a pretty solid preseason. We kept getting better every week.”
The last time Indiana won a road conference opener was in 2018 against Ohio State. The Hoosiers will have a chance to start their conference slate off on the right foot Friday at 7 p.m. in Happy Valley against the Nittany Lions.
Both matches this weekend will be broadcast on BTN+.