Iowa volleyball beats Michigan State, struggles against Michigan

The Hawkeyes swept the Spartans, but struggled in a four-game loss to the Wolverines.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Taylor Louis goes for a kill during a volleyball match between Iowa and Michigan State on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 3 sets to 0.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

With Big Ten volleyball now in full spike, Iowa saw two tough opponents in Michigan State and Michigan visit Carver-Hawkeye this past weekend. The Hawkeyes beat the Spartans for the first time under head coach Bond Shymansky, 3-0, but lost to the Wolverines, 3-1, ending a seven-game winning streak.

Strong showings from veterans Cali Hoye and Taylor Louis allowed the Hawkeyes to sweep the young Spartan squad on Sept. 21.

Having graduated their entire starting lineup last season, the Spartans were at a disadvantage against the experienced Hawkeye squad led by seniors Louis and Molly Kelly. The senior leadership proved valuable with Louis posting 10 kills and Kelly pulling out 9 digs against the Spartans.

This same advantage of experience was not as prevalent in the Sunday match against the Wolverines.

Seniors Carly Skjodt and Jenna Lerg are leaders of the Michigan squad, with Lerg pacing the Big Ten in digs per set and Skjodt posting high numbers in the conference in kills per set.

Michigan had an 11-1 record heading into Carver-Hawkeye, most recently dropping its first Big Ten match of the season to Nebraska. The Hawkeyes sought to stretch its seven-match winning streak and pick up their second Big Ten match of the season.

The first game of Sunday’s match started out well for the Hawkeyes. Contributions came from everyone on the floor. Hoye, Louis, and Reghan Coyle all contributed to a Hawkeye run that allowed the squad to take an early lead. The defense continued its solid play with blocks from Orr and digs from Hoye and Kelly.

But the Wolverines were resilient, battling back to tie the game at 11. That momentum proved too much for the Hawkeyes, and the Wolverines claimed the game, 25-22, despite efforts from Hoye and Meghan Buzzerio.

The second game was tougher for Iowa, because Michigan seized the momentum early. Strong blocks and kills gave the Wolverines the edge, giving them a lead by as many as 4 points.

A service ace from Louis and a double-contact call brought the Hawkeyes back into it, and they later tied the game. This led to a very contentious second half of the game with numerous lead changes.

Some more back-and-forth play ensued, a theme common in the second game. A late kill from Hoye gave Iowa a 1-point lead and brought the crowd members to their feet. Louis posted a strong kill to close out the game for the Hawkeyes and tie the match at 1.

Although the third and fourth games were somewhat close, Michigan closed them out fairly easily and left Carver with a win. Its level of intensity was too much for the Hawkeyes to compete with.

“We knew what to do, but we didn’t exactly know how to implement [scouting reports], so we’re going to work a lot harder to use that against our opponents,” Orr said.

The Hawkeyes see the loss as a learning opportunity and are optimistic, given their previous sweep of Michigan State.

“We learned that we’re capable of beating anyone [this weekend],” Kelly said. “Michigan State was a great way to start off, now we just have to keep going and rolling with it. We’ll learn from this loss.”

Iowa will not dwell on this loss, especially given the caliber of its opponents. However, it sees what it should do to improve. The Hawkeyes will try to increase their focus and competitiveness, and they have their eyes set on matches against Illinois and Northwestern this weekend.

We will spend time watching video from this weekend, but what we are most interested in this weekend is how we are going to stack up against Illinois, how we are going to stack up against Northwestern,” Shymansky said. “If you start trying to project and get too far ahead of yourself in the league, you get really distracted.”

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