Major win over No. 6 Wisconsin gives career nights to volleyball hitters

Iowa volleyball’s huge upset over No. 6 Wisconsin was not easy, and it required dominance and focus from hitters Taylor Louis and Cali Hoye.


David Harmantas

Iowa's Cali Hoye yells as Iowa scores during a volleyball match against Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the number six ranked Badgers 3-2.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

The road to Iowa volleyball’s electrifying upset over No. 6 Wisconsin was a long one, and the show was stolen by two stars. Only one word can describe the Oct. 6 performance of Iowa junior Cali Hoye and senior Taylor Louis: dominant.

The two outside hitters combined for a staggering 54 kills in the five-set exhilarating win over the Badgers.

Hoye took the tenacious effort a step further. She put up 30 kills on the night, the most for an Iowa volleyball player since 1997. She was consistent, as well, with a hitting percentage of .300.

“Cali Hoye is so steady for us,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “Our team really rallies around her. What a coming-out party she’s had as she keeps getting better and better.”

That this dynamic performance came in a Big Ten game proves the determination of this team.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Iowa squad. The first set against the Badgers was inconsistent. The team posted 7 errors in the first set and a low hitting percentage of .175.

The second and third sets lit a fire under Louis and Hoye that the Badgers were unable to put out. Once the Hawkeyes saw the stellar effort of the pair, they realized something special was happening in Carver-Hawkeye.

“We’re starting to realize we can compete with the top teams now, and that really drove us,” Louis said.

The production from Hoye and Louis was contagious. They were anything but stoic in their run against the Badgers, their animated play fueling the Iowa side of the net.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball stuns No. 6 Wisconsin

Instrumental in the success of Hoye and Louis was sophomore Brie Orr, who put up 59 assists. Defensively, senior Molly Kelly tallied 22 digs, and freshman Sarah Wing made some noise with 6 blocks.

“We knew what we needed to do,” Hoye said. “We just had to execute all the little things. Our blockers were getting good touches off the block, we were getting good digs, Brie was giving me good sets, and that allowed me to get the kills.”

Fittingly, the match ended with a merciless swing from Louis resulting in the final Iowa kill, her 24th of the night. Louis made a huge difference from the service line, as well, putting up several service aces.

With the lack of success from the program in the past, it’s has been a long time since an Iowa volleyball crowd has been that loud at Carver-Hawkeye. The match was the first time Iowa has beaten Wisconsin in nine years.

Overreactions are not always a good thing, but this could quite possibly be a turning point for Shymansky’s volleyball program.

On Oct. 6, the Hawkeyes proved that they can beat anyone. Minutes after the thrilling victory, Shymansky and his team were talking about their next two matches, against Rutgers and Purdue.

The establishment of a winning culture is certainly a tough task, but the Hawkeyes may be able to point to its win against the Badgers as the moment it all changed.

Louis and Hoye’s dominant performance against Wisconsin lit a fire under the Iowa volleyball program, a fire they hope doesn’t go out for quite some time.

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