Hawkeye volleyball eyes Boilermakers

Iowa volleyball will host another top-25 team Saturday, when it takes on No. 15 Purdue in Carver-Hawkeye.


David Harmantas

Iowa’s Brie Orr sets 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

Hawkeye volleyball will face another tough task in No. 15 Purdue on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye. A sweep against Rutgers on Wednesday and a five-set upset victory over Wisconsin on Oct. 6 have given Iowa two-straight wins. The Hawkeyes will try to keep the fire burning against Purdue at home.

It has been a long time since this much hype has surrounded an Iowa volleyball team, and the squad seeks to capitalize on that in several ways. It starts with Purdue.

The win against No. 6 Wisconsin on Oct. 6 was a big one, and it yielded the 11th highest attendance for a volleyball game in Carver-Hawkeye.

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Head coach Bond Shymansky wasted no time after the major win against Wisconsin as he pleaded for Hawkeye fans to show up for his team’s Saturday match against Purdue.

“Hawkeyes, we need you to come out and get the attendance,” he said following the win. “Get us pumped up, get us going. Put Hawkeyes in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and help us beat Purdue.”

A healthy home-court advantage would be helpful, because the Boilermakers will be a tough test.

Purdue has a 14-4 record thus far, with all of its losses having come in Big Ten matches. Most recently, No. 9 Penn State trounced the Boilermakers in four sets.

Despite its rocky start in conference play, Purdue has several playmakers who are formidable.

Senior Brooke Peters leads a solid defense, putting up an average of 4.94 digs per set, second in the conference.

Offensively, Purdue is led by senior Sherridan Atkinson, who averages 3.96 kills per set, sixth in the conference.

Just as impressive, Purdue is 3-1 on the road this season. The ability to play well away from home is a boon in any sport, and the Boilermakers will try to put it to use against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa, though, believes it can beat anyone in the country when it plays to its potential. This is especially true now, with emotions riding high after the upset of Wisconsin.

“We can really beat every team when we control our side, so I think there’s a lot of fire [right now],” Cali Hoye said.

After the big week for the team, the Hawkeyes have jumped in the rankings. Taylor Louis and Hoye now rank second and seventh in the Big Ten in kills per set. Molly Kelly shines as a positive defensive force, hitting 4.93 digs per set, third in the conference.

As is with every Big Ten match, the Hawkeyes will rely heavily on scouting reports and focus in practice. They believe their talent can put them over the edge.

“Obviously, going back to the scouting report helps,” Louis said. “But you can’t execute the scouting report if you don’t play volleyball.”

Certainly, this is another important indicator of Iowa’s position in the conference. As the Hawkeyes seek an NCAA Tournament berth, these matches become important marks on their résumé.