Iowa volleyball looks to break a three-game losing streak

With two three-set losses this weekend, the Hawkeyes are on a three-match losing streak. They hope to break it with a win against Northwestern in Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday night.

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Iowa volleyball looks to break a three-game losing streak

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.

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.

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.

David Harmantas

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

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Iowa volleyball is hunting for a resurgence after a tough weekend road trip that involved three-set losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The squad will face Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday. This is the second match against the Wildcats this season; the first time around, the Hawkeyes pulled off a narrow five-set win.

The Hawkeyes enjoyed quite a bit of defensive success in their first match against the Wildcats. Iowa held Northwestern to a .146 hitting percentage, using 23 total blocks on the night, a season high.

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

Along with the strong defensive showing, Cali Hoye, Reghan Coyle, and Taylor Louis combined for 50 kills.

Despite offensive success and holding the Wildcats to a low hitting percentage, the match went to a fifth set. Iowa took a narrow lead late in the set and pulled off the win, thanks to a Louis kill.

So the Hawkeyes will remain vigilant before the rematch.

“[We expect them] to be coming back stronger than they were last time; they’re definitely going to be coming back for revenge,” Louis said. “We need to focus on how we beat them last time, which was good serving, good blocking, and getting the win.”

This match comes at a very important time. Defensively, Iowa struggled quite a bit last weekend. Minnesota hit .304 and Wisconsin .402.

Because the Hawkeyes have had success against the Wildcats this season, they hope to find their footing after the tough matches. They expect to have an improved defensive effort.

The losing streak has featured long matches. Hawkeye head coach Bond Shymansky has put an emphasis on continuing tough play for the entire match.

“We have to find ways to finish off teams,” Shymansky said after a recent loss to Purdue.

The Hawkeyes say they believe a stronger defensive effort could help them finish off the Wildcats.

“Blocking is one of the biggest things we’ve been working on this past week,” Coyle said. “We know [Northwestern] runs a faster offense, and [its] outside ball is its primary swing. Our right sides and middles have been working on strengthening our blocks, and I think that’ll really help us out.”

The Wildcats have struggled since the previous meeting with the Hawkeyes. They have dropped five of their last six matches, with their only win coming against Michigan State. The cold streak has stuck them with the Big Ten’s lowest hitting percentage, .186.

However, there are some bright spots for Northwestern. Sophomore Nia Robinson is a lethal force, and she is fourth in the conference in kills per set with 3.97.

Despite the lost weekend, several Hawkeyes are still among the top in the conference in many statistical categories. Louis and Hoye both are in the top-10 in kills per set at 3.95 and 3.70. Senior Molly Kelly’s 5 digs per set put her at second in the Big Ten.

The match against Northwestern is an important one — it can determine the trajectory of Iowa volleyball for the remainder of the season.

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