Fundamentals prove key in Hawkeye volleyball’s weekend sweep

A strong weekend in Des Moines gave Iowa volleyball confidence as it came home to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time this fall. This, paired with focus on fundamental volleyball, gave Iowa the three-set sweep over the Eastern Illinois Panthers.

Brie+Orr+serves+the+ball+during+Iowa%27s+match+against+Eastern+Illinois+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+9%2C+2018+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena.+The+Hawkeyes+won+the+match+3-0.
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Fundamentals prove key in Hawkeye volleyball’s weekend sweep

Brie Orr serves the ball during Iowa's match against Eastern Illinois on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes won the match 3-0.

Brie Orr serves the ball during Iowa's match against Eastern Illinois on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes won the match 3-0.

Megan Nagorzanski

Brie Orr serves the ball during Iowa's match against Eastern Illinois on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes won the match 3-0.

Megan Nagorzanski

Megan Nagorzanski

Brie Orr serves the ball during Iowa's match against Eastern Illinois on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes won the match 3-0.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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Sunday was Ice Cream Day at Carver-Hawkeye, and Hawkeye volleyball’s first match in front of a home crowd made it even sweeter, as the squad swept Eastern Illinois, 3-0.

The team’s two three-set victories over Drake and South Dakota State in Des Moines on Sept. 7 helped it bring home a winning record of 4-3 when the Hawkeyes faced the Panthers on Sunday.

The Panthers sported a record of 3-7 heading into Carver-Hawkeye, after dropping their most recent match to South Dakota State.

A return to fundamentals has been the focus of Bond Shymansky’s Hawkeyes, and that held true in the sweep of the Panthers.

Part of the focus in practice was on cleaner passing, better serving, and better returns of serve. The early season losses to Washington and Colorado showed the Hawkeyes what needed improvement, and it certainly showed at Carver-Hawkeye on Sunday.

“After coming off the tough loss in Washington, we were just super inspired and ready to get after it,” said junior Cali Hoye, who posted 13 kills on Sunday. “In practice, we kind of focused more on the basics like the passing, and the serving, and working on our first contact, knowing that every single little point counts.”

In the first set on Sunday, all of Iowa’s hard work was evident. Clean passing, sound defense, and smart kills helped the Hawkeyes in their first set. Sophomore Brie Orr put up 13 assists in the first set, leading Iowa’s improvement in clean passing. This paved the way for Hoye’s 4 kills in the set. All of that meant Iowa hit its stride after being tied at 4 and going on a run to claim the set, 25-15.

In practice, we kind of focused more on the basics like the passing, and the serving, and working on our first contact, knowing that every single little point counts.”

The run continued in the second set, thanks largely to efforts by Taylor Louis   and her 7 kills, adding to her team-high 17. Although Eastern Illinois made a run at Iowa, fueled by Panther Laurel Bailey, the team’s errors proved to be too much, and the Hawkeyes claimed the set, 25-18.

The true resourcefulness and focus of the squad was obvious in the third set. Bailey’s 3 kills helped put the Panthers out front early. The Hawkeyes matched the score, and an assist from Brie Orr helped Louis post a kill that gave Iowa the lead.

The Hawkeyes didn’t lose that lead, and a kill from Hoye ended the set, 25-20, giving Iowa the sweep.

Its third-straight sweep did not come easily, but it said a lot about the hard work and focus put into the successful weekend.

“[The three sweeps] takes a lot of effort because it takes a lot of focus to maintain that intensity level,” Shymansky said. “But we got great leadership out of our seniors. I thought Molly Kelly passed really well all weekend and played strong defense. And both Taylor Louis and Reghan Coyle were bringing a lot of thunder in their swings.”

Iowa will try to continue the focus and strong fundamentals when it heads to Ames on Friday to take on Iowa State.

“[Our] main focus this weekend was definitely serve and pass, and we really executed that really well,” Louis said. “Going into playing Iowa State this Friday, I think we are definitely focusing on staying on our mission, which is mental toughness.”

Surely, confidence from a three-game win streak doesn’t hurt.

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