The Daily Iowan

Iowa volleyball welcomes No. 6 Wisconsin

Iowa volleyball will take on yet another ranked opponent— Wisconsin, Saturday night.

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Iowa volleyball welcomes No. 6 Wisconsin

Cali Hoye spikes the ball during Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on September 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 3-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

Cali Hoye spikes the ball during Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on September 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 3-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

Megan Nagorzanski

Cali Hoye spikes the ball during Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on September 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 3-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

Megan Nagorzanski

Megan Nagorzanski

Cali Hoye spikes the ball during Iowa's match against Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on September 23, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 3-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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Hawkeye volleyball will return home on Saturday after a two-week journey on the road.

It will face No. 6 Wisconsin, representing Iowa’s third top-10 opponent in the last eight days.

The Hawkeyes bring home a 10-6 record, 2-3 in the Big Ten. The squad is coming off a tough four-set loss against No. 3 Nebraska, in which it struggled to create offensive production.

Wisconsin sports an 11-2 record, 4-1 in the Big Ten. Most recently, the Badgers dominated No. 7 Illinois in four sets.

The Hawkeyes are excited to be home after a two-week road trip, and to have the edge that Carver-Hawkeye provides could be the difference in taking down Wisconsin.

“I think we’re really excited to show what we can do and defend our home court. I think we like having the underdog vibe,” Cali Hoye said. “There’s nothing to lose when we go out and play, so we’re excited to fight together.”

Consistency is the name of the game for Wisconsin. It has been able to put up an average hitting percentage of .294, second in the Big Ten. The Badgers are 6-0 when posting a hitting percentage over .300. If the Hawkeyes are to compete with the Badgers, they must disrupt clean hitting.

Among the leaders of the Wisconsin team are sophomore blocker Dana Rettke, who is second in the conference in blocks per set with 1.56 and puts up 3.64 kills per set.

RELATED: Nebraska volleyball stands tall to Iowa

The Hawkeyes have focused on players such as Rettke in the past few weeks.

“Our team has been working a lot on blocking lately,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “We know that it’s something that is crucial to success in the Big Ten because there are so many heavy hitters.”

To disrupt the Badgers’ high hitting percentage, the Hawkeye blocking game must come up strong. Glimpses of defensive prowess came up last weekend in Iowa’s match against Northwestern, where the squad put up 23 blocks, a season high.

Hawkeye offensive leaders must also come up big. In its loss against Nebraska, the Iowa squad had a hitting percentage of .071. Needless to say, there must be improvement in ball placement.

Taylor Louis and Hoye posted a combined 23 kills in the loss against Nebraska, many of them coming in the lone set in Iowa’s win column. Reghan Coyle was third on the team in kills in the match, only putting up 4. Iowa must look for offensive contributions from other players on the floor.

Against Nebraska, Iowa proved that it is able to put up a fight against the nation’s best teams. Even while on the road, the team feels the difference when the Iowa faithful come out in full force.

“The Northwestern match was great because we had a ton of Iowa fans there, we even had a ‘Let’s go Hawks’ chant going, so that helped on the road,” said sophomore Brie Orr. “We’re excited to come back home and feel the same thing.”

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