After being taken to the wire by an 8-9 Illinois squad, Russ Rose and his team know to not take any opponent lightly.
This will be imperative to the team’s success this weekend, as it’ll be facing Indiana and No. 17 Purdue, neither of which was able to secure a victory this past weekend. The Hoosiers, who currently sit at 8-10, have lost their last six matches.
Rose, however, recognizes that the team is better than its record would indicate. Even though they weren’t able to secure a victory, the Hoosiers forced five sets against No. 3 Nebraska.
“They could've beaten Nebraska,” Rose said. “So if they can beat Nebraska, they can beat Penn State.”
Parity is the name of the game in the Big Ten, as Iowa, which entered this past weekend at 8-9, proved itself by defeating Purdue.
Lions’ outside hitter Megan Courtney also has a firm grasp of the concept of not taking an opponent lightly, no matter what their record might be.
“Indiana’s a good team; they went for five with Nebraska. I think, like all Big Ten teams, that they have the capability of beating anyone, like Iowa beat Purdue. So it’s just any night, any game,” the freshman said.
After 34 years as coach, Rose has learned a thing or two about how to avoid the dreaded trap game.
“If you look past teams, you’re making a huge error both professionally and personally. I spend the same amount of time on all of the teams we play, the teams that are 6-0 and the teams that are 0-6,” Rose said. “Because all of the 20 matches you play in-conference have the same value.”
Before setting its sights on Indiana, Rose’s squad will have to worry about extending Purdue’s newfound losing streak. This might not be so easy, considering that Purdue will be looking to regain momentum after faltering last weekend.
Leading their charge will be 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Turner. Turner, who’s second in the Big Ten in points scored, could be the toughest individual player the Lions will face this season.
Courtney welcomes the opportunity to compete against a player of Turner’s caliber, referencing her time spent in practice and games with Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott as a major reason why her transition to the college game has been made easier. Sophomore Micha Hancock also thinks that the two will play an integral role in limiting Turner’s production.
The Lions, who will be playing at home for the first time since their Sept. 22 tilt with Iowa, will square off with Purdue and Indiana, respectively, tonight and tomorrow night at 7 p.m.