As the calendar turns to October, the caliber of opponents for the teams in the Big Ten goes up dramatically. Iowa (7-6, 1-1) continues their Big Ten season tonight as they host #7 ranked Minnesota (8-2, 2-0).
Last weekend Iowa defeated Northwestern in their first conference match and then lost on the road to Illinois. If you were forecasting the season, the Hawkeyes are probably performing right in line with expectations.
Minnesota has had at least 27 wins in each of the past four seasons under current coach, and former Olympic coach, Hugh McCutcheon.
Even more so than football, recruiting makes a big difference in volleyball. The difference between Minnesota and Iowa is pretty wide. According to prepvolleyball.com, over the past four seasons, this is what the recruiting ranks are for each program. Each year, they rank the top 30 recruiting classes and then name some honorable mentions as well.
2016: Minnesota #8, Iowa N/R (highest honorable mention)
2017: Minnesota #4, Iowa #27
2018: Minnesota #14, Iowa N/R (highest honorable mention)
2019: Minnesota #18, Iowa #24
So is the gap closing? Probably not. The 2019 class for Minnesota only included three players while the Iowa class had seven. Minnesota also received two transfers for 2019 including one from UCLA and the juco player of the year.
Both teams recruit across the nation but I think Iowa needs to make the midwest a primary focus. There are so many quality players in the Iowa/Illinois/Missouri/Minnesota/Wisconsin/Indiana region that they could become a national power quickly if they could start to get a few of the best players from here. Hopefully Coach Brown can start working toward that goal.
Sophomore OH Courtney Buzzerio took over the team lead with 132 kills on 338 total attempts (.266 hitting percentage). Her sister, Meghan, has missed the past few matches with an injury to allow Courtney to jump into the lead. Junior OH Griere Hughes is close behind with 125 kills.
Junior DS Halle Johnston is leading the team with 225 digs.
Sophomore MB Amiya Jones has 38 blocks to lead the squad. Sophomore Hannah Clayton is close behind with 34 total blocks.
Saturday October 5: Iowa continues their insanely difficult stretch in the schedule with a visit to State College to face the #5 ranked Nittany Lions. Moral victories aren’t the name of the game but it would be a success if Iowa can manage to win a set at Penn State. According to Iowa press notes, the Hawkeyes are 0-53 versus Penn State.