Sweep is sweet for volleyball

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Ting Xuan Tan

Iowa players cheer before beginning their set during a volleyball match at the Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Oct 28, 2016. Iowa defeated Northwestern 3-1. (The Daily Iowan/Ting Xuan Tan)

By James Kay

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The Hawkeye volleyball team (17-7) got back on track with two wins over the weekend against Northwestern and No. 24 Illinois, improving its conference record to 7-5.

After beating Illinois in a dramatic five-set match, the Hawkeyes have given fans another reason to believe they can compete with the best of the best.

“It feels great for our ladies,” Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky said in a release after the win against Illinois. “They’re working so hard and showing so much fight each match. After a tough match against No. 3 Minnesota last weekend, here we are against another ranked Big Ten team, and we keep showing them that we’re one of the best teams in this league. Our drive and the terminal toughness we keep displaying in clutch moments is fantastic, and I couldn’t be more excited for our young women.”

The Hawkeyes took care of Northwestern in four sets (25-22, 25-18, 16-25, 26-24) on Oct. 28.

Sophomore Reghan Coyle led the team with 14 kills on 22 chances, while hitting an efficient .409. Redshirt freshman Meghan Buzzerio, junior Jess Janota, and senior Ashley Mariani each had 9 kills. Senior Loxley Keala also added 47 assists and 4 kills to her stat line.

The Hawkeyes’ taller task came against Illinois, which was coming off a three-set loss to Nebraska the previous night and eager to maintain its top-25 status. Unfortunately for the Fighting Illini, The Hawkeyes turned in one of their best matches yet as they took out Illinois in five sets (25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-12). 

The Hawkeyes had five players rack up double-digits in kills. Three of those players hit .310 or better in the match, and the Hawkeyes hit .314 as a team.

Coyle exploded for the second-consecutive night, tallying 18 kills on only 27 chances (.556 hit percentage). Senior Lauren Brobst (10 kills), Janota (17 kills),  Buzzerio (11 kills) and Mariani (13 kills) all had their way with Illinois.

Keala pitched in her second 60-assist match on the season (65) while adding 9 digs. Junior Annika Olsen reached 20 digs for the fourth straight match (22) while tacking on 5 assists.

The crucial win for the Hawkeyes marks their second upset for this season, and they plan on continuing to tear up the Big Ten.

“[Shymansky] was talking to us about how coaches from all over the country are calling him, and are saying, ‘Wow. We have seen what you have done in the Big Ten, and it is incredible,’” senior Alyssa Klostermann said. “Being able to be noticed in the Big Ten is amazing, because it has other teams turning their heads and look across the net a few more times wondering what they have to go up against. It’s incredible.”

The Hawkeyes will hit the road this weekend, traveling to Rutgers on Friday (6 p.m.) before taking on No. 10 Penn State on Saturday (3 p.m.).

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