The fall brings football, that we all know. However, less of you know that around Iowa City, fall also means that college volleyball is beginning and this year, the Hawkeyes look to build on a successful 2017 season.
After a slow start, the Hawkeye Volleyball team won seven straight matches, including their conference opener against Michigan State before finally snapping that streak with a 3 sets to 1 loss to 18th ranked Michigan on Sunday. The Hawkeyes are now 9-4 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
The Hawkeyes started out the season 2-3 as they lost to Lipscomb, #13 Washington, and #21 Colorado. After the match with the Buffalos, the Hawks ripped off seven straight victories including a Cy-Hawk series victory against Iowa State.
As always, the conference schedule is filled with match after match against teams that are nationally ranked. Home matches against Penn State on November 3rd and defending National Champion, Nebraska on November 7th represents as tough of a two-game stretch as anyone in the country will face. The teams in the conference are used to these grueling matches and those that survive to make the postseason are always stronger due to the competitive conference matches.
Prepvolleyball.com, one of the leading sites for volleyball information, predicts Iowa will finish 10th in the Big Ten, but that would be enough to earn an at-large bid to the postseason tournament this year. At 9-4, they remain on pace to meet this prediction.
Leading the Hawkeyes hitting attack are outside hitters Taylor Louis and Cali Hoye as well as rightside hitter Reghan Coyle. Louis, a senior, led the Hawkeyes last year with 386 kills. Hoye is a junior from California who had limited playing time last season. Coyle is a senior and was fifth on the club with 182 kills last season.
Setting up the hitters is Brie Orr, a returning sophomore setter. Orr amassed over 1,200 assists last year as a freshman and will be handed the keys to the offense once again this season.
For those of you that have played volleyball, you know that the setter and hitters can’t do anything without a good pass (either serve, receive, or a dig). If you’re new to volleyball, a dig is a pass off your opponent’s attack (hit) that allows your team to stay in system (pass, set, hit).
Leading the Hawkeye passers is senior libero Molly Kelly who has 227 digs. Iowa came into the season fairly inexperienced in the passing game as they needed to replace two of their top passers as libero Annika Olsen was lost to graduation and outside hitter Claire Sheehan transferred to Minnesota. Olsen finished her career fifth in all-time digs with 1,556.
The Hawkeyes return to the practice court this week as they prepare to travel to Champaign and Evanston this weekend as they face #8 Illinois and Northwestern. They will return home on Saturday, October 6th when they will host #6 Wisconsin in their annual Dig Pink night.
If there is interest, I will update you throughout the season on the progress of the Hawkeyes and hopefully add some insight on some of the players as well. If you live in or near Iowa City (or any place that they will be playing), go out and support the squad as they work toward a berth in the postseason.