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OLYMPIC SPORT OVERVIEW: VOLLEYBALL DOMINATION CONTINUES

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#VolleyballSchool

Iowa's transformation into a #VolleyballSchool continued, while field hockey excelled, soccer struggled, and we got a sneak peek of Iowa baseball.  Let's dig in.

VOLLEYBALL. Iowa hosted the Holiday Inn Hawkeye Challenge last weekend -- and dominated.  Iowa won all four matches in the tournament -- and won all three matches with three-game sweeps.  Iowa got things going with a win over Gardner-Webb, cruising past them 25-12, 25-13, and 25-13.  Jess Janota led the Iowa offense with 9 kills and Loxley Keala kept things ticking with 28 assists.  Iowa followed that up with a three-game win over Coastal Carolina, although this one was closer: 25-23, 25-19, and 25-22.  Lauren Brobst led the Iowa offense this time (13 kills), while Keala had 43 assists.  Iowa beat Coastal Carolina again on Saturday morning (no, I don't know why they played them twice in a row like that), this time in slightly more dominating fashion: 25-12, 25-20, and 25-21. Reagan Davey was the offensive star in that match (14 kills), although Janota (12) and Brobst (11) weren't far behind her.  Keala ran the show again in impressive fashion with 40 assists.  Iowa polished off the tournament with a dominant win over Drake: 25-15, 25-12, 25-16.  Brobst, Janota, and Ashley Mariani each had 10 kills to pace the Iowa offense, while Keala had another 40-assist (41, to be precise) effort on her way to being named tournament MVP.

The win was Iowa's 8th in a row -- their longest winning streak since 2006 -- and improved them to 10-3 overall.  They're off to an absolutely fantastic start to the season and it's fun to see Iowa enjoying success in a sport that were very bad at not too long ago.  Shit will get very real this week, though, as Iowa has two matches against Nebraska, one home and one away, this week.  The Huskers are ranked 4th in the country and will pose Iowa's biggest challenge yet.  Iowa volleyball has come a long way already this year -- after this week we might have a better idea of how close they are to the teams at the top of the sport.

FIELD HOCKEY. Iowa ended a five-match homestand with two more wins last weekend, improving them to 6-3 before heading on the road for a five-match road tip over the next three weeks.  On Friday, Iowa opened Big Ten play and dropped conference newbie Rutgers, 4-3.  Iowa took a quick 1-0 lead 42 seconds into the game off a Mallory Lefkowitz goal, though Rutgers tied it up in the 8th minute and had an advantage in shots (10-2) for the remainder of the half.  Iowa scored three goals in the second half, with Veronique Declercq, Makenna Grewe, and Stephanie Norlander all chipping in with goals.  Rutgers fought back with a goal each time Iowa threatened to pull away, but Iowa hung on at the end for the 4-3 win.  Iowa added a 2-0 win over Missouri State on Sunday, breaking open a defensive game with a goal from Isabella Licciardello in the 48th minute and a second goal from Mallory Lefkowitz in the 57th minute.  Iowa dominated the shots in the game (14-5) and cruised to a fairly easy win.  Iowa star Stephanie Norlander only had one goal over the weekend, but she's still atop the Big Ten scoring charts:

Iowa's road trip begins with matches in Indiana against Indiana and Ball State next weekend.

SOCCER. It was a tough weekend for Iowa soccer -- they opened Big Ten play with a trip to the Mitten State to face Michigan State and Michigan and came back with no wins to show for their efforts.  The road trip began in East Lansing on Friday, where Iowa fell, 2-1.  The Hawkeyes gave up a goal to Alexis Warner less than two minutes into the game and then gave up another to Warner in the 37th minute to go down 2-0.  Freshman Alina Magruder notched her third goal of the season three minutes later to halve Iowa's deficit, but Iowa wasn't able to find the back of the net in the second half.  All the action was in the first half, apparently -- MSU outshot Iowa 12-7 in that half and also outshot Iowa 2-1 in the second half.  Iowa headed to Ann Arbor on Sunday and played tremendous defense for 88 minutes, holding Michigan at bay despite an absurd advantage in shots for the Wolverines (27-3).  Alas, the dam broke in the 89th minute and Michigan walked away with a 1-0 win.  Hannah Clark made a season-high 7 saves, but that is, frankly, an incredible disadvantage in shots  -- Iowa simply has to be able to possess the ball better and get off more shots if they want to have a realistic opportunity to win games like that. The Hawkeyes return home this weekend for games against Ohio State (5-2-2) and #4 Penn State (6-2-1).

BASEBALL. Iowa opened up fall ball with a dominant 10-0 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday.  Eat your hearts out, Batista and Tulowitzki.  OK, so this was the Ontario Blue Jays and not the Toronto Blue Jays... but they're both Canadian and they use the same damn logo... so we can totally claim a transitive AL East championship when the Jays clinch, right?  Right.  Iowa used 14 different pitchers in the 14 inning game (remember: exhibition), with each pitcher getting one inning of work.  They all looked pretty good -- Iowa gave up just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 0 runs over those 14 innings -- although special props to Nick Gallagher and Sammy Lizarraga (who each struck out all three of the batters they faced) and Luke Vadermaten (who needed just six pitches to conclude his inning of work).  JUCO transfer Mason McCoy led the team in hitting with a 3/7 performance, while Tyler Peyton, Iowa's best returning player, went 2/2 at the plate with a run and an RBI. Junior Corbin Woods went 2/4 with a triple, a run scored, and an RBI as well.

GOLF. Iowa's men's golf team got their fall season underway last weekend with a trip up north for the Gopher Invitational, where they finished with an 892 (+40), good for 9th place (out of 16 teams).  Oklahoma ran away with the team title, beating the next-closest team (Cal) by 21 strokes.  Raymond Knoll (+7, 14th place) and Nate Yankovich (+8, 17th place) were Iowa's top finishers, with last year's best golfer, Carson Schaake, finishing at +12, tied for 39th place. All in all, not the greatest start to the season for Iowa, although they were narrowly behind Michigan State (+38) for the top-placing Big Ten team.  Iowa is back in action this weekend at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Burlington, IA.

SOFTBALL. Last but not least... Like Iowa baseball, Iowa softball is also running an abbreviated fall exhibition schedule -- and they're also dominating the opposition.  Iowa crushed St. Ambrose yesterday, 17-0, their second-straight shutout of the exhibition season.  Five Iowa pitchers combined for the shutout, scattering 4 hits across 9 innings while striking out 9 and walking none. It took Iowa's bats a while to get going -- the Hawkeyes led just 1-0 after four innings -- but they added three runs apiece in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings and then tacked on another seven for good measure in the 9th inning.  Erin Erickson went 2/5 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI, while Angela Schmiederer went 2/3 with a team-best 4 runs scored and Sarah Kurtz went 2/6 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI.

IOWA SPORTS CALENDAR FOR THE WEEK

(all times Central)

9/21: none
9/22: none
9/23: Iowa vs Nebraska (volleyball; Iowa City, IA)
9/24: none
9/25: Iowa vs Indiana (field hockey; Bloomington, IN), Iowa vs UIC (men's and women's swimming; Chicago, IL), Iowa vs Ohio State (soccer; Iowa City, IA), Iowa vs Kirkwood CC (softball; Iowa City, IA), Western Michigan Invite (men's tennis; Kalamazoo, MI), Golfweek Conference Challenge (men's golf; Burlington, IA), Furman Fall Classic (women's tennis; Greenville, SC)
9/26: Iowa vs UIC (men's and women's swimming; Chicago, IL), Iowa vs. Nebraska (volleyball; Lincoln, NE), Western Michigan Invite (men's tennis; Kalamazoo, MI), Furman Fall Classic (women's tennis; Greenville, SC), Golfweek Conference Challenge (men's golf; Burlington, IA), Head of the Des Moines Regatta (women's rowing; Des Moines, IA)
9/27: Iowa vs Ball State (field hockey; Muncie, IN), Iowa vs Penn State (soccer; Iowa City, IA), Golfweek Conference Challenge (men's golf; Burlington, IA), Furman Fall Classic (women's tennis; Greenville, SC)