Hawkeye volleyball freshmen filling roles

Because of several holes left by graduating seniors, middle positions have been filled by freshmen. Statistically, they have risen to the occasion.


Megan Nagorzanski

Hannah Clayton and Cali Hoye block 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

The nature of college sports tells us that new faces are inevitable.

For this year’s Hawkeye volleyball squad, this has been especially true at the middle position.

At the end of last year, graduation created several gaps in the middle; so, a lot has been asked of two freshmen at the position. The coaches brought Hannah Clayton and Amiya Jones in with different talents to boost the team.

Courtney Buzzerio has also helped the team at second setter in the middle.

Whenever there are young athletes, there are questions of how effective they will be.

The gritty middle position can be especially difficult for younger players. From high school to college, new players see big differences in both the level of physicality and the competition associated with college volleyball. All of this means that putting in work off the court is important for success.

“It’s been a good transition because upperclassmen have done a good job leading us and showing us what the culture is all about here,” Clayton said.

The effect has been felt as the youngest players on the team have posted big numbers both defensively and offensively.

Statistically, the new players are among the leaders on the Hawkeye squad. Clayton leads the team with blocks (38), followed closely by Jones (32). Jones has also proven that she can score, giving the Hawkeyes 32 kills. Buzzerio is also giving the squad a different look, posting 29 assists.

“We brought in three freshman middles this year, and we knew all three would give us a little different look and all three were going to need to work,” said head coach Bond Shymansky.

That different look has led to the players to contribute to the squad in their own ways, whether setting or blocking. Buzzerio is third on the team in assists, and Jones is fifth on the team in kills.

“[Reghan Coyle] has taken on the responsibility of really teaching the middles our position and showing us what to do,” Jones said. “A lot of stuff is being thrown at us at once, but they are really just helping us figure it out and put it into action in the game.”

The front-row freshmen are not the only newcomers starting to shine. In the backrow, Maddie Slagle has picked up 33 digs so far and has started to become known as a defensive specialist. Maddie Hine and Sarah Wing have also seen some action early this season.

Their work in the preconference schedule and in the preseason is vital, especially as the Hawkeyes gear up for Big Ten play. Getting the kinks worked out in the early season is very important, because the conference’s competition level is so high, as the younger players will discover.

The short-term successes the freshmen enjoy, along with a lot of playing time, spark hope in Shymansky’s squad. The different skills the freshmen bring to the Hawkeyes means volleyball could employ numerous ways to win matches as the competition heats up.

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