The Iowa volleyball team checked off another item on its National Tournament resume. By defeating the sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night in a five set thriller, Iowa now has both strength-of-schedule and signature wins accomplished.
Over 2,300 fans attended the annual Dig Pink match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Dig Pink is a national initiative to provide meaningful and impactful experiences for athletes while inspiring and empowering them to come together in support of the stage IV breast cancer community. The crowd was the 11th-largest in school history and everyone was treated to a thrilling match as Iowa improved to 11-6, 3-3 in conference.
In the first set, the Badgers came out hot hitting over .400. Even with the spectacular hitting, the Hawkeyes hung tough but ultimately fell 22-25. The Badgers had a nine point lead midway through the set which the Hawks ultimately chipped away at and the hope was that the momentum would carry over into the second set.
The second set was tight early on and it looked like the Hawks momentum of the first set was beginning to pay off. The Hawks forced a Badger timeout leading 13-9 and increased the lead to 20-15 before finally prevailing 25-22 on a kill from senior Taylor Louis. Iowa hit .300 in the second set, a large improvement from their .175 of the first match.
The close match continued and Iowa won the third set, also by the score of 25-22. Iowa was down during the middle parts of the match but behind Louis and junior Cali Hoye, Iowa fought back for the win to take a two sets to one lead in the best of five match. Iowa hit .238 in the third set to .152 for the Badgers.
While Iowa was looking to win the match in four sets, the Badgers showed why they are a top ten team as they took an early 10-5 lead and ultimately won 25-19 forcing a fifth set. Iowa hit .226 during the set compared to .306 for Wisconsin.
The fifth set in college volleyball only goes to 15 points so getting off to a quick start is crucial. Iowa did just that getting out to an 8-2 lead at the midway point. The teams changed sides at that point and Wisconsin fought back to get into the game but Iowa wouldn’t be denied and Louis ended the match with a kill giving the Hawkeyes the huge victory. Both teams hit well in the final match but Iowa won that battle hitting .385 to .318 for Wisconsin.
Hoye, from San Clemente, California, led the Hawkeyes with 30 kills. She took 70 swings during the five sets to rack up her career high in kills. Hoye added 14 digs to earn the double-double.
Louis, from Evanston, Illinois, transferred to Iowa after her sophomore season at Marquette University. She had 24 kills on 57 attempts and added three blocks and three service aces.
While it’s easy to highlight the big hitters, without pinpoint setting from sophomore Brie Orr and superior passing from senior Molly Kelly, the Hawkeyes wouldn’t have been able to pull off the upset. Orr had 59 assists and 13 digs and Kelly had a team high 22 digs. There were of course many other key plays as a total of ten Hawkeyes made contributions in the match.
Hoping to continue with their positive momentum, Iowa travels to New Jersey on Wednesday to take on Rutgers (6-13 overall, 0-6 conference) and then hosts Purdue (14-3, 3-3) on Saturday night.