No. 3 Minnesota, No. 9 Wisconsin sweep Iowa volleyball

Iowa volleyball was defeated by two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten this past weekend in No. 3 Minnesota and No. 9 Wisconsin.

Senior+Taylor+Louis+sends+the+ball+over+the+net+during+Iowa+volleyball+against+Purdue+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+13%2C+2018.+Purdue+defeated+Iowa+3-2.+
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No. 3 Minnesota, No. 9 Wisconsin sweep Iowa volleyball

Senior Taylor Louis sends the ball over the net during Iowa volleyball against Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Purdue defeated Iowa 3-2.

Senior Taylor Louis sends the ball over the net during Iowa volleyball against Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Purdue defeated Iowa 3-2.

Katie Goodale

Senior Taylor Louis sends the ball over the net during Iowa volleyball against Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Purdue defeated Iowa 3-2.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Senior Taylor Louis sends the ball over the net during Iowa volleyball against Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Purdue defeated Iowa 3-2.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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Iowa volleyball faced difficult tests on the road this past weekend with matches against No. 3 Minnesota and No. 9 Wisconsin.

The Gophers and Badgers proved that they are two of the nation’s most dominant squads — both swept the Hawkeyes.

Iowa put up a decent fight against the commanding Minnesota squad Oct. 19. The first set saw very contentious play and several lead changes.

Led by seniors Taylor Louis and Reghan Coyle, the Hawkeyes led by as many as 5 points in the first set.

But the Gophers proved that a 5-point lead was like a sneeze, battling back with aggressive play from Alexis Hart. They took a small lead that they did not relinquish despite a late Iowa run. Minnesota hung on and narrowly won the first set, 25-23, after an Iowa service error.

That turned out to be the closest the Hawkeye squad could get to bringing down the Gophers.

Minnesota fired on all cylinders in the second set, winning the first 7 points. Hart and Taylor Morgan each posted 2 kills to lift the Gophers to a commanding early lead.

Small bursts of energy did not do much to aid the Hawkeyes, and the Gophers closed out the set at a comfortable score of 25-18.

Another Minnesota run in the next set, this time totaling 5 points, was enough to end the match. A kill from Adana Rollins gave the Gophers their 11th-straight victory.

Minnesota’s sweep of the Hawkeyes marked its third straight three-set win and its 13th this season.

However, there were some bright spots for Iowa. Despite the absence of one of its biggest producers in Cali Hoye, other Hawkeyes stepped up. Three Iowa players — Coyle, Louis, and Megan Buzzerio — scored more than 10 kills. Senior Molly Kelly put up 27 digs on the night, the second highest of her career.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball faces No. 3 Minnesota, No. 9 Wisconsin in tough weekend slate

Iowa then traveled to Madison to take on the Badgers, a squad it had upset earlier in the season.

This time around, Wisconsin was ready for Iowa, fresh off a five-set upset against No. 5 Nebraska, and the Badgers were determined not to let the Hawkeyes upset them a second time.

A few runs by the Badgers decided the first set. With efforts by Coyle and Louis, the Hawkeyes were able to claw their way back a couple times, but the Badgers caught fire. A late run gave the Badgers the first set at a score of 25-18. Again, the absence of Hoye hurt the Hawkeyes.

Early Wisconsin dominance was the downfall of Iowa. Despite efforts from Amiya Jones and Hannah Clayton during a 3-point run, the Hawkeyes could not answer the Badgers’ aggressive, determined play. Wisconsin won the second set handily, 25-13.

A determined effort from the Hawkeyes to force a fourth set was cut short in the third. Despite a meager 12-11 lead in the middle of the set, the Badgers scrapped their way to a 25-22 victory in the third set, finishing the sweep against the Hawkeyes.

Wisconsin held Iowa to a hitting percentage of .170 while hitting .405.

Historically, Iowa has had difficulty defeating ranked opponents on the road; its last win came against Purdue in 2012.

With hopes of making the NCAA Tournament, Iowa must try to break the trend. Top-ranked matchups are essentially a weekly occurrence in the Big Ten, so it is imperative that the Hawkeyes improve.

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