Indiana put up an earnest effort against the defending champions, Wisconsin, on Wednesday night in Wilkinson Hall, but the team lost the match in straight sets. The Hoosiers’ fight ensured the Badgers would have to battle for every point.
“The word that (head) coach (Steve) Aird used with the girls after the match was proud,” assistant head coach Spencer McLachlin said. “He was proud of their fight. Proud that we executed our game plan for about 70% to 80% of the stretch.”
In May 2022, the Indiana Daily Student published an investigation regarding Indiana volleyball head coach Steve Aird. The investigation’s allegations stem from interviews with six women who used to play for Aird — four of which at Indiana. They alleged the IU program under Aird is built around punishment and dismissiveness of mental abuse.
The first set began with a kill by junior outside hitter Grae Gonsell, granting Indiana the first point of the night. After Wisconsin responded, Indiana regained the lead 8-5 with junior middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede behind the serving line and kills from sophomore outside hitter Mady Saris and freshman outside hitter Candela Alonso-Corcelles.
Late in the first set, Indiana trailed Wisconsin 19-22. Led by sophomore outside hitter Kenzie Daffinee’s service ace, Indiana was able to draw the score 22-all.
With Wisconsin ahead 24-22, Gonsell delivered a kill on the Badgers’ first set point. However, a service error by senior defensive specialist Paula Cerame ended it and Wisconsin won the first set 25-23.
“It was an aggressive miss and out by maybe a ball," McLachlin said. “I really think it was not [Paula Cerame’s] best serving night, but when it is on, no one is passing her serves.
McLachlin reiterated he does not want Cerame to feel upset about her recent performance and that he is proud of her.
Wisconsin controlled the beginning of the second set with its strong blocking power. A block by Wisconsin junior middle blocker Caroline Crawford and sophomore outside hitter Julia Orzol helped build an 8-5 lead.
The Hoosiers were down four points midway through the set, but with Saris behind the line, she was able to guide Indiana within one point of the Badgers, 13-14. The service run was highlighted by two kills from redshirt junior outside hitter Ashley Zulauf. The Badgers were able to finish the second set on a 7-3 run and claim the win 25-18 to go up 2-0 on the night.
“Wisconsin just has some really heavy arms, their blocking is also very good,” Kjolhede said. “It was just us trying to figure out how we get around that and how we play around that. We picked that up in the third set.”
A service ace by Alonso-Corcelles late in the third allowed Indiana to tie the score at 16 apiece. However, the final set ended with a 9-3 run by Wisconsin, giving the Badgers a win in straight sets.
The outcome for Indiana is the same as the last five meetings: a clean sweep from the Badgers. However, sophomore setter Camryn Haworth emphasized despite the same results, Indiana’s volleyball program is transforming.
“We have worked really hard to change the culture of this program for the past eight months," Haworth said. “It has been an amazing change for all of us to have seen.”
For its next match, Indiana will face Iowa for the second time this season at 3 p.m. Oct. 8 in Iowa City. The match will be broadcast on BTN+.