Iowa volleyball snags first Big Ten opener since 2009

Iowa volleyball swept Rutgers but fell to No. 2 Penn State this past weekend, bringing the Hawkeyes’ win total to 12 for the season.

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Iowa volleyball snags first Big Ten opener since 2009

Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky watches players during the volleyball Black & Gold scrimmage in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The Hawkeyes will host their first home game against Nebraska-Omaha at noon on Sept. 1 to kick off the four game Hawkeye Classic. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky watches players during the volleyball Black & Gold scrimmage in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The Hawkeyes will host their first home game against Nebraska-Omaha at noon on Sept. 1 to kick off the four game Hawkeye Classic. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky watches players during the volleyball Black & Gold scrimmage in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The Hawkeyes will host their first home game against Nebraska-Omaha at noon on Sept. 1 to kick off the four game Hawkeye Classic. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky watches players during the volleyball Black & Gold scrimmage in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The Hawkeyes will host their first home game against Nebraska-Omaha at noon on Sept. 1 to kick off the four game Hawkeye Classic. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Anna Kayser, [email protected]

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The Iowa volleyball team this past weekend to start the conference season.

On Sept. 23, Iowa faced off against No. 2 Penn State and suffered its first loss in the Big Ten this season.

In the first set, the Nittany Lions started out strong and held the Hawkeyes to 13 points to take the 1-0 match lead. Freshman outside hitter Claire Sheehan and junior Taylor Louis battled for Iowa and combined for 7 kills.

Penn State took another early lead in the second set, but Iowa fought back and took a 13-12 lead. A 3-1 run gave Penn State the lead again, which led to a 2-0 match lead.

The third match proved to be most tightly contested of the afternoon; it featured 15 ties and five lead changes, ultimately ending with a Sheehan kill to give Iowa the win, 25-23.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball jumps right into conference play

The fourth set started off with back-and-forth, but Penn State took control and went on to a 25-17 set win to seal the match.

Louis led the Hawkeyes with 17 kills and a .351 attack percentage, while Sheehan had double-digit kills for the fifth time this season.

Freshman setter Brie Orr recorded 45 assists, making the Penn State match her 14th with 30 or more assists and her seventh with more than 40.

“I keep reminding our team that we are going to be trading points with the best teams in the country all season long,” head coach Bond Shymansky said in a release. “It’s going to happen. Here we are on the road doing it. Our group is growing by leaps and bounds.”

On Sept. 22, Iowa started the weekend on a positive note, sweeping Rutgers.

The first set was neck-and-neck at 16-15 before the Hawkeyes went on a 9-2 run to start off the match 1-0.

In the second match, Iowa heated up quickly and never looked back, leading by as many as 11 points, to take a 2-0 advantage.

In the third set, a Sheehan kill broke a 5-5 tie, and the Hawkeyes sealed the match victory with a 25-14 finish.

Senior middle blocker Jess Janota lead the third set with 5 kills to go along with an ace and a block.

Iowa’s defense played a major rule in the victory; the Hawkeyes held Rutgers to a .012 attack percentage.

“Good job by our group to really be assertive tonight,” Shymansky said in a release. “It was a little bit of a slow start, trading points in the first set, but then we really separated in the second set. We played a lot of great, clean volleyball in the second and third sets. We were turning points and really dropping the hammer.”

Despite the loss to the Nittany Lions, the Hawkeyes look forward to continuing to play their game.

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