Volleyball picks up dynamic hitter


Ting Xuan Tan

FILE – In this file photo, Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky talks to Iowa’s no. 3 Alexa Ito before she is substituted back into the match during a volleyball match at the Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct 8, 2016. (Ting Xuan Tan/The Daily Iowan, file)

Iowa volleyball head coach Bond Shymansky added senior transfer Kelsey O’Neill to the front-row lineup.

By Megan Sprengeler

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Hawkeye volleyball fans can expect to see a new face on the court this fall. Senior transfer Kelsey O’Neill will finish out her college volleyball career with Iowa this fall.

O’Neill transfers to Iowa from Pittsburgh for one season of competition, Big Ten-style.

“I am expecting a whole new level of play now that I am part of the Big Ten,” O’Neill said. “Even though I only have one year to play as a Hawkeye, I want this team to go far. I’m expecting a great season followed by an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, where we can prove how big of a threat Iowa can be.”

Last season at Pittsburgh, the Skokie, Illinois, native racked up 170 kills and 72 blocks in 97 sets, leading the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament.

“From the moment I started playing my freshman year of college, it was a dream to make it to the [NCAA] Tournament,” O’Neill said, “I can still recall the wave of emotion that washed over the room as my team heard our name get announced during the selection showing. That was by far one of, if not the most, exciting and proud moments I’ve had in my volleyball career thus far.”

The versatile middle blocker/right-side hitter has been selected for the USA National Collegiate Team for two-consecutive years and has been part of the USA pipeline since her sophomore year in high school.

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“I know it may sound cliché,” O’Neill said. “But everything just fell into place, and I am so grateful it got me to where I am today.”

O’Neill will continue to study biochemistry on the pre-med track.

Thinking long-term, she has aspirations to play professional volleyball overseas after she graduates.

“We are very excited to add Kelsey to our team mission,” Coach Bond said. “She has a tremendous amount of experience as a college senior, and we expect her to take on the challenge of the Big Ten very well. We count on our team culture to embrace Kelsey as they work hard together to prepare for the fall season.”

O’Neill and the Hawkeyes will open the season on Aug. 25-26 in Long Beach, California, where they will face some grueling competitors, Wright State, Stanford, and Long Beach State.

“There is a program out there for you,” O’Neill said. “Reach out. You won’t know if it’s a possibility unless you try. Although you may have heard it already, don’t forget why you love to play. That passion will push you to continually get better and go further than you could have imagined. The USA National Collegiate team asks us to think about our ‘why’ — I challenge everyone to do the same.”

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