Volleyball set to build on success

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Ting Xuan Tan

Iowa players celebrate after Iowa’s no. 10 Loxley Keala scores a kill during a volleyball match at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sept. 28 , 2016. Iowa defeated Maryland 3-0. (The Daily Iowan/Ting Xuan Tan)

By James Kay

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The Iowa volleyball team will travel to Evanston, Illinois, this weekend with a high level of confidence after notching its first conference win against Maryland on Wednesday.

The team has a chance to get to .500 in conference play when it faces Northwestern (7-8) on Saturday. Northwestern has lost all three conference matches so far this season, but the Hawkeyes aren’t taking any opponent for granted.

“A ‘W’ is a ‘W’ when it comes to Big Ten play,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “You take every single win that you can get.

“I’m proud of the group for the investment they keep putting in each other and for their true mental toughness. It’s really been fantastic to watch this group get better and better. It’s really no surprise that we got a Big Ten win this early in the season, and we are going to get more.”

Though they dominated Maryland in their last match, the Hawkeyes still have a lot of work to do in solidifying all aspects of their game. During their last match, there were moments in which the Hawkeyes didn’t communicate with one another and watched the ball drop in between them.

One of the biggest weaknesses has been the number of service errors in crucial moments. They have recorded 111 service errors, compared with their opponents’ 97, which isn’t exactly a winning formula.

“I think getting every component of our offense and defense going, especially this early on in the season, will really help as we move on toward the Big Ten,” said junior Jess Janota.

The Hawkeyes will have the opportunity to fix those hiccups when they face a less-talented Wildcat team. Northwestern ranks in the bottom half in the conference in kills, hit percentage, opponents’ hit percentage, and blocks.

On the brighter end of the spectrum, the Hawkeyes re-established themselves on the frontline on Wednesday and showed how lethal they can be when given the right opportunity to attack.

The team has relied on the consistent play of senior Lauren Brobst. Against Maryland, however, that wasn’t the case. The team was able to go to Janota, sophomore Reghan Coyle, and senior Ashley Mariani on the outside to generate an abundance of kills.

“It’s so important as an offensive unit to have everyone contributing, and not to have equal distribution but to have everyone producing,” said senior Loxley Keala. “We had Ashley [Mariani] going off, Jess [Janota] going off, and it just makes my job so much easier. Knowing that I can dish it out to anyone and we are going to get kills makes everyone more comfortable. We are definitely going to take that to Northwestern this weekend.”

Like Keala, Janota is confident in her team’s ability.

“We are excited to take on Northwestern on Saturday and to just keep [hoping] our momentum continues,” said Janota.

The Hawkeyes will begin play against Northwestern at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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