Hawkeye volleyball ramped up for Huskers

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Ting Xuan Tan

Iowa’s no. 6 Kasey Reuter attacks with the ball during a volleyball match at the Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Iowa defeated Rutgers 3-1. (The Daily Iowan/Ting Xuan Tan)

By James Kay

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Every sports fan loves a cinematic story line.

The Hawkeye volleyballers seem to have cultivated one of their own as they host No. 1 Nebraska on a night in which they will potentially break their single-game attendance record.

What makes this match so intriguing is that the Hawkeyes have produced two upsets at home against two top-ranked opponents and almost had a third after faltering at the end against Minnesota on Oct. 21.

They will also seek revenge against Nebraska, who embarrassed the Hawkeyes in straight sets on the road on Nov. 9.

“It’s really exciting to get a chance to face one of the best teams in the country at home,” redshirt sophomore captain Kasey Reuter said.  “Last week against Nebraska, Molly Kelly was telling us before the game, ‘Guys, this is why we play, to go up against the best teams in the country.’ We know that Saturday’s environment is something we will remember for the rest of our lives.”

The attendance record is one of many reasons the Hawkeyes are happy to be at Carver-Hawkeye this weekend. Before their win against Rutgers on Wednesday, they hadn’t played a match at home since October. Over that stretch, they had endured a three-match losing streak, two of the losses coming against Nebraska and No. 15 Penn State.

“Before this year, I didn’t really buy into the whole home-court-advantage idea, but I really think we play better when we are at Carver-Hawkeye,” Reuter said. “Knowing our fans have our backs and playing in such a great environment really makes a huge difference for us. Carver is a hard place to play in and takes a while to adapt to. We are excited to be back, and I know we will make the most out of this opportunity.”

Before the losing streak, the Hawkeyes were just starting to garner national recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Since then, they have not received any votes to put them in the top 25. 

The benefit of playing Nebraska on the road is that the Hawkeyes now understand what they need to do when Saturday comes around.

“The first two games, we were right there with them for half the game before losing it,” redshirt freshman Meghan Buzzerio said.

“In the third set, we only lost by 2 points. That shows that we never gave up and just kept on going. We need to ride that momentum going into the weekend.”

Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky believes his team wasn’t on its game when it faced Nebraska but that the players learned from the experience.

“We were sloppy with ball control, but I really liked where we finished the match,” Shymansky said.  “We now get to host Nebraska at home on national television, so it’s going to be fun. People keep saying that they are excited and are bringing their fans, so it’s nice to have the positive feedback. That’s what makes Hawkeye Nation so special.”

The match against Nebraska will begin at 8 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye. The match will also be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network.

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