Iowa volleyball faces big time Big Ten battles


The Daily Iowan; Photo by Ben Sm

Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky speaks to the team after the match between Iowa and Northern Illinois inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The Hawkeyes went on to defeat the Huskies 3-0. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Anna Kayser, [email protected]

The Hawkeye volleyball team will return to Carver-Hawkeye this weekend to take on two top-10 teams.

Iowa starts off the weekend tonight against No. 7 Wisconsin, and a win would do wonders for the Hawkeyes.

“You know every weekend in the Big Ten is exciting, so I think our team gets ramped up every time we get to play,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “I know that we have an ax to grind with the Badgers, because it’s just kind of a great state rivalry on the border.”

The Badgers are 10-1 on the season with a 1-1 Big Ten record. Wisconsin lost a five-set match to Michigan State on Sept. 22 and swept Michigan two days later.

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in holding its opponents to a .122 hitting percentage.

“Obviously, [the Badgers] have their powerhouse hitters and a big block, but we’re used to playing against that in the Big Ten, so it’s not something we can’t conquer,” senior libero Annika Olsen said.

Wisconsin has a new setter this year after graduating its All-American setter from last year, and Olsen thinks that can play to Iowa’s advantage.

“They still have a lot of depth in their hitting positions but [a] new setter, so I think that’s really going to be something that we can kind of key into and know, just because she’s not as experienced,” she said.

On Sept. 30, Iowa will face No. 3 Minnesota.

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“I think our group knows we let a big one slip last year when we let Minnesota sneak out of here in a tight five-setter,” Shymansky said. “We also have three Minnesota gals on our team who I know are excited to play the Gophers. There’s plenty of motivation, plenty of ammo to think about, but bottom line for us is we’re just working on being better as a Hawkeye volleyball team.”

The Gophers were ranked No. 1 before falling to Michigan State on Sept. 24, dropping their overall record 12-1. They are 1-1 in Big Ten play.

Minnesota ranks 12th in the nation with a .297 hitting percentage.

“Minnesota returned almost all of its starting players and stuff, so they’re a strong team, but I mean, they went down this weekend — they lost to Michigan State — so we know they’re beatable,” Olsen said.

Coming off of Iowa’s 3-1 loss at Penn State on Sept. 23, the team focuses on how to become better as a whole.

“I thought we dominated when we [needed] to,” Shymansky said. “I thought we competed really hard against Penn State at times, and now we just need to find a way to be more consistent.”

Iowa’s only losses this season have been against ranked teams, but that doesn’t affect the players’ outlook for this weekend.

Being tied with both teams in Big Ten records is something that helps put the upcoming matches into perspective.

Playing in Carver-Hawkeye for the first time in the Big Ten season will fuel the drive this weekend, along with striving to avenge past losses.

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