The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Volleyball leaps into the fire

The Daily Iowan
Iowa Women’s Volleyball team plays against Nebraska team at Carver Arena on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. The Hawkeyes lost to the Cornhuskers, who are ranked number 4 in the nation. (The Daily Iowan/Lexi Brunk)

The Hawkeyes will face No. 13 Ohio State and No. 1 Penn State.

By Kyle Mann
[email protected]

The Iowa volleyball team (10-5, 0-2) opened Big Ten play last week with two matches against No. 4 Nebraska, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier this weekend. The Hawkeyes left town on Thursday for road trip to No. 13 Ohio State today and No. 1 Penn State on Saturday.

Playing on the road is a challenge in itself, and playing on the road against ranked Big Ten teams is perhaps one of the most daunting scenarios in all of college volleyball. The Hawkeyes played the Huskers tight in the match at home, even holding sizable leads on numerous occasions.

Then, however, the Hawkeyes went to Lincoln and were steamrollered in the opening set, 25-10.

“I think we came out just a little too nervous, it was a big crowd and big atmosphere we were playing in, so we kind of lost our composure and focus on what we had to do,” sophomore Jess Janota said. “We have to do a better job of creating our own energy.”

The Hawkeyes will surely try to avoid another slow start in hostile territory when they meet the Buckeyes at 6 p.m. today. The Buckeyes enter the weekend at 12-2 overall, 1-1 in the Big Ten — and most importantly — 4-1 in Columbus.

Ohio State is fifth in the conference in blocks at 2.53 per set, an area in which the Hawkeyes struggled against Nebraska, and is also third in digs with 15.55. Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky is also getting his team prepared for the Buckeye offense, headlined by Elizabeth Campbell and Taylor Sandbothe.

“They’re hot right now, and they have a couple really dynamic hitters who are really getting it done for them,” Shymansky said. “For us, we have to continue to play our style of volleyball; we can’t afford to water things down or slow things down. As long as we keep our offense clicking, we’re able to hang with anybody.”

Shymansky’s confidence in his team has found its way into his players’ heads, who believe that as long as they take care of their own play, they put themselves in a position to win.

“We’re just trying to stop their right sides and keep working on our side of the net for now,” setter Loxley Keala said. “What our identity is, we’re trying to perfect that.”

If it seems like the Hawkeyes are going through the gauntlet by following Nebraska with Ohio State, it only gets worseon Saturday.

No. 1 Penn State is a perennial national-title contender, and is no different this season. The Nittany Lions lead the conference in hitting percentage (.319) and also hold opponents to a league-low .114. They are also top-of-class with 3.2 blocks per set.

“[The Nittany Lions have] their legacy, and they’ve won so many national championships, they’re just a really strong team with a legendary coach [Russ Rose],” Janota said. “Going against that can be difficult, but any team is beatable on any night, so it all depends on how we play.”

Follow @KyleFMann for Iowa volleyball news, updates, and analysis.

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