The Daily Iowan

Iowa volleyball on track with motto

Hawkeye volleyball’s mission keeps the players mentally aware and creates a positive environment.

Iowa+volleyball+head+coach+Bond+Shymansky+answers+questions+after+Iowa%27s+match+against+Michigan+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Sept.+23%2C+2018.+
Iowa volleyball head coach Bond Shymansky answers questions after Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sept. 23, 2018.

Iowa volleyball head coach Bond Shymansky answers questions after Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sept. 23, 2018.

Megan Nagorzanski

Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa volleyball head coach Bond Shymansky answers questions after Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sept. 23, 2018.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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The show on Sept. 22 at Kinnick Stadium was momentarily stolen by Iowa volleyball head coach Bond Shymansky as he fervidly pumped up the Hawkeye faithful, reminiscent of a wrestling announcer.

The moment rang true to the tenets of Shymansky’s mission for his Hawkeye volleyball squad: “True Mental Toughness.”

“The four tenets are treating others really, really well, giving your very best, having a great attitude, and being unconditionally grateful regardless of your circumstance,” senior libero Molly Kelly said. “So the whole concept is that you can always do better in each of those four areas.”

RELATED: Iowa volleyball beats Michigan State, struggles against Michigan

Through both losses and wins this season, this Hawkeye volleyball squad has sought to meet the level of intensity Shymansky displays on the sideline (and apparently at football games).

Invariably, True Mental Toughness allows the Hawkeyes to stay focused during tense Big Ten competition. Week after week, Big Ten teams are asked to face opponents at the top level of college play. An intense focus is required.

“What I see is that you have to be a premium, focused athlete on Day 2 in the Big Ten,” Shymansky said. “Preparing all week long to play somebody every Friday gives you a lot of focused confidence, but then you have a quick turnaround to play the next match. You have to be really, really mentally tough.”

This has been perfectly displayed this week for Shymansky’s team.

A big win against a tough Michigan State team last weekend saw that quick turnaround when the Hawkeyes faced No. 17 Michigan. A difficult loss ensued, and it was back to work immediately for the Hawkeyes.

They have little time to dwell on past matches, because they face Northwestern and No. 7 Illinois this weekend.

A methodical, focused approach is key, and the Hawkeyes look to their mission of True Mental Toughness when their best is required in short turnarounds.

“We [take] it day-by-day, knowing what we need to do on our side of the net,” setter Brie Orr said.

Changes occur in the Iowa volleyball program, and people are beginning to take notice. The positivity and focus instituted by Shymansky have played a big part in building Iowa volleyball, and success thus far in the 2018 season proves it.

This season’s Iowa team is competing at its highest level in a long time. It defeated a good Michigan State program for the first time in several years, put together a long winning streak, and gave some of the highest nationally ranked opponents difficult tests.

The team seeks the mission off the court as well. Over the last few seasons, Iowa volleyball has seen its first Academic All-Americans in several decades. This year, excitement from the team is coming with variations of “Carpool Karaoke” across campus and other shenanigans to keep a positive attitude.

A positive environment and an unwavering focus have been the difference for the Hawkeyes, and it will stay with its mission of True Mental Toughness to continue the trend.

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