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

Surging volleyball Hawks head to Purdue

Loxley Keala serves the ball in a women’s volleyball game against Rutger on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa defeated Rutger, 3-0. (The Daily Iowan/Rebecca Bright)

The Hawkeye volleyball team has won consecutive matches in the Big Ten for the first time this season, and will put its streak to the test on Saturday at Purdue.

The Hawkeyes (12-14, 2-11) downed Rutgers on Oct. 31, and after seeing confidence levels as high as they’ve been since conference play began, defeated Indiana on Wednesday night. Now, after a nightmare of a schedule to begin the season, Purdue presents another very winnable match for the Hawkeyes.

Purdue is 17-7 overall, 8-5 in the conference, but it accumulated many of those wins against the lower-tier teams early in the season. Since encountering No. 7 Ohio State on Oct. 16 and several other teams Iowa has seen, the Boilermakers are 2-5 in their last seven matches and have dropped three in a row.

With Purdue in a midseason rut, the Hawkeyes’ increasing momentum after some long-overdue Big Ten victories could prove to be a perfect time to extend the streak to three.

After dropping their first 11 Big Ten matches, there was a creeping suspicion that maybe the Hawkeyes would never pull themselves out of their funk. In the past week, however, they’ve dispelled that fear, and as was evident in Bloomington, they haven’t quit on the season.

“We just kept balls alive that I haven’t seen us keep alive yet this season,” head coach Bond Shymansky said after the win at Indiana. “Our group has clearly not given up.”

After the well-documented heartbreaking loss to Michigan on Oct. 7, there was a palpable sense that the Haswkeyes simply needed to get one win under their belt, if only to remind them that they could. After the Rutgers victory, it was almost a sure thing that the Hoosiers would be in for, at the least, a challenging night with a born-again opponent.

Similarly, with that theory proven after a sweep on the road of Indiana, it will be interesting to see just how hot this team gets and for how long.

“I think we opened the floodgates now,” Mikaela Gunderson said. “I think we’ll have a snowball effect and keep rolling with it. We’re just going to seize the opportunities we have ahead of us.”

Wednesday night’s victory was as good of a match as the Hawkeyes have played all season, and while no one player had a gaudy night statistically, Shymansky got the diverse and effective attack he’s been searching for all season.

Jess Janota and Lauren Brobst each had 11 kills, Ashley Mariani had 7, and Gunderson and Reghan Coyle had 6 each as the team hit .265 collectively.

Janota hit .625 individually, and she has been particularly effective in recent matches. From her perspective, she feels that each Hawkeye win makes the next one that much easier.

“After getting that first one, especially for a lot of our new players to the Big Ten, it helps us get our momentum going earlier in the game,” Janota said. “That’s going to help all of us get these wins for the rest of the season.”

First serve in West Lafayette is set for 6 p.m.

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