The Daily Iowan

Hawkeye volleyball to take on Scarlet Knights on road

After its upset of Wisconsin, Iowa volleyball looks to keep the momentum alive as it travels to New Jersey for a road match against Rutgers.

Iowa%27s+Cali+Hoye+serves+the+ball+during+a+volleyball+match+against+Wisconsin+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+6%2C+2018.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+number+six+ranked+Badgers%2C+3-2.
Iowa's Cali Hoye serves the ball during a volleyball match against Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the number six ranked Badgers, 3-2.

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

David Harmantas

David Harmantas

Iowa's Cali Hoye serves the ball 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

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Iowa volleyball will make the long journey to New Jersey on Wednesday to face off against Rutgers in a weeknight match.

Hot off a big win against No. 6 Wisconsin, Iowa will try to capitalize on its momentum. After the win, the Hawkeyes moved to 3-3 in conference play, 11-6 overall.

The Scarlet Knights have struggled up to this point — they are winless in the Big Ten, 6-13 overall. Rutgers dropped its most recent match to Maryland in a three-set sweep.

Statistically, the team is struggling as well. It is in the bottom quarter of the Big Ten in nearly every statistical category.

Bright spots on the Rutgers squad include middle Jasmine Stackhouse and hitter Sahbria McLetchie.

Stackhouse ranks high in the conference in blocks per set with 1.15 and in hitting percentage with a consistent .329. McLetchie has been able to make some noise with 3.16 kills per set, enough to put her at 14th in the conference.

The Hawkeyes are formidable right now. The team is ninth in kills per set thanks to the dominance of hitters Taylor Louis and Cali Hoye.

Louis ranks second in the Big Ten with 4.11 kills per set, and Hoye is seventh at 3.76. This is largely due to the pair’s impressive performance against Wisconsin, in which they had a combined 54 kills.

The offensive effort from the hitters has come from an intense level of competition. The focus and drive start in practice.

“Our outsides in practice are a super competitive group,” Hoye said. “We’ve had that competitive drive in practice, so that has helped a lot.”

RELATED: Point/Counterpoint: Will volleyball make the NCAA Tournament after beating No. 6 Wisconsin?

Iowa’s defensive play has greatly improved in the last few weeks. The effort has largely been led by libero Molly Kelly, who leads the Big Ten in digs and is second in digs per set. A recent focus on clean blocking has helped the Hawkeyes, allowing middle Hannah Clayton to average 1.13 blocks per set thus far in the season.

“Our blocking has continued to get better as we’ve gotten into conference play,” Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky said. “The team is really applying the analysis. We watch video, we look at charts, we do all those things … It makes the defense a lot more capable. You narrow the court down a little bit for the hitter to turn and hit the ball.”

After losses earlier this season, a common feeling among players and staff was that proper scouting was done, but implementation was missing. Recent matches have yielded strong execution of scouting reports, and that will be important as the season progresses.

But for now, Iowa’s focus is on the scouting report for its match in Piscataway, New Jersey.

For one of the first times in conference play, Iowa will be heavily favored going into a match against a Big Ten team.

“We’re in the mix in the Big Ten,” Louis said. “We’ve always been the underdog, but we’re starting to realize we can compete with the top teams now.”

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About the Photographer
David Harmantas, Photographer
David Harmantas is a staff photographer at the The Daily Iowan. He is a third-year law student at the University of Iowa College of Law and is in his second year as a photographer for the DI. While he shoots general assignments for the DI, he has a particular emphasis on sports and the performing arts.
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