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OLYMPIC SPORT OVERVIEW: SOCCER WINS, BASKETBALL DOES ITALY

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Recapping the week that was for Hawkeye sports outside the Big Two.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Football is less than two weeks away, but there are also other sporting goings-on at Iowa, particularly outside the revenue-drawing Big Two of football and men's basketball.  Let's check in on them; the plan is to do this throughout the year, supplemented with bigger articles focusing on individual sports when warranted.  Feel free to let us know what you'd like to see.

GO 1-0WA AWESOME. The first actual Iowa sporting event of the 2015-16 calendar that counts was in soccer; Iowa got the season started with a 1-0 home win over Pacfic on Friday night.  Junior Bri Toelle got the goal in the 21st minute and senior goalkeeper Hannah Clark made six saves on her way to her 21st career clean sheet. Iowa figures to rely heavily on defense this year -- they graduated their top scorer from a season ago (Cloe Lacasse) and the three players they had named B1G Players to Watch -- Clark, Amanda Lulek, and Corey Burns -- are all defenders.

Iowa returns to action Sunday afternoon (1 PM CT) against Nebraska-Omaha.

THE ITALIAN JOB AMATEUR SIGHT-SEEING EXCURSION, WITH OCCASIONAL BASKETBALL COMPETITIONS. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Iowa women's basketball team finished up their Italian adventure with a pair of games, blasting Asd Pallacanestro Muggia (APM), 91-47, and coming up just short against TK Hannover, 70-69.  Unlike Iowa's first two opponents on their Italian tour, TK Hannover is an actual professional team, so the competition was certainly ramped up for that clash.  Against APM, Whitney Jennings, Ally Disterhoft, Alexa Kastanek, Kali Peschel, and Chase Coley got the start; Jennings led Iowa in scoring with 16 points, while Disterhoft chipped in with a double double (12 points, 12 rebounds).  Kastanek also hit double figures in scoring (11 points), while freshman Megan Gustafson added 13 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.  Iowa had a slim lead at halftime against APM, but used a 55-point second half to pull away for a rout.

Iowa had an early lead against TK Hannover, but could not hold it and could not get a potential game-winning shot to drop at the end of the contest.  Fatigue seemed to play a factor -- the Hawkeye Sports recap cites "unforced turnovers, foul trouble, and a lack of rebounding" as key reasons why Iowa fell to Hannover.  And given the travel and the fact that this game was the second half of a back-to-back for Iowa, it would hardly be a surprise if Iowa's legs gave out a bit.  Whitney Jennings again led Iowa (and all scorers) with 23 points; Ally Disterhoft was the only other Hawkeye in double figures, with 12 points.  Gustafson again provided a spark off the bench (8 points, 1 rebound), as did sophomore Carly Mohns (7 points, 8 rebounds).  Gustafson probably had the best performances on the tour of any of the members of Iowa's highly-touted freshman class (although Tania Davis, the top player in the class, wasn't able to play much due to a shoulder injury); it seems like a good bet that she'll see minutes for Iowa this year.  Overall, Iowa went 2-1 in Italy and it seemed to be a very worthwhile outing:

Judging by the rest of the coverage of Iowa's Italian tour, the players and coaches had a very good time.

YANKIN' IT. UI senior golfer Nate Yankovich enjoyed some success at the U.S. Amateur Championship last week, making it to the match play portion of the event.  He shot scores of 66 and 75 during the earlier (non-match play) rounds of the event, easily qualifying as one of the final 64 golfers.  Unfortunately, he didn't last long in match play -- he lost 5 and 4 to Cheslo Barrett.  ("5 and 4" means that Cheslo was up 5 holes with just 4 holes remaining -- meaning that there was mathematically no way for Yankovich to catch him).  Yankovich won just one hole during the round.  Still, making it to the match play side of the event was a nice achievement on its own.

Yankovich and the rest of the Iowa golfers will get their proper season underway in just a few weeks -- they head to Minneapolis on September 13-14 for the Gopher Invite, a two-day event hosted by (duh) Minnesota.  Iowa has four other events in September and October as well.

THE LIBERO WHO LOVED ME. Iowa tips off another volleyball campaign shortly and there's a strange sensation in the air.  Is that... hope?

After multiple years of futility, Iowa went 14-17 (6-14 Big Ten) in 2014, winning four Big Ten matches in a row at one stage for the first time since 1994. The six conference victories were the most since 2008. Prior to Shymansky's hiring, the program recorded 12 conference wins combined from 2009-13.

Those days are over.

Iowa hired a new coach before last season, Bond Shymansky, and the impact was immediate -- Iowa went from being hapless to being much more competitive.  The Big Ten is a very good volleyball conference -- six of the last eight NCAA champions have been from the Big Ten and, okay, Penn State has accounted for all six of those titles, but the Big Ten has also grabbed a pair of runner-up finishes in that span, too.  The transition from being competitive to being actually good can be difficult, but Iowa definitely appears to be on the right path after several years in the volleyball wilderness.

RUNNING DOWN A DREAM. The IAAF Track and Field World Championships are taking place in Beijing, China right now (Usain Bolt is doing Usain Bolt things) and there's some Iowa representation over there -- former Hawkeye standout Erik Sowinski, representing the United States.  Sowinski has become one of America's better distance runners and he was bidding for a medal in the 800 meters in Beijing.  Unfortunately, he came up short in that bid, finishing 7th in the third heat of the semifinals.