Hawkeye volleyball struggles in five-set loss to Wildcats

Iowa looked to rebound after a rough weekend on the road. Northwestern had other plans, downing Iowa in a five-set marathon.

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Hawkeye volleyball struggles in five-set loss to Wildcats

Junior Cali Home serves the ball during the Iowa Volleyball game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2018. Northwestern defeated Iowa 3-2.

Junior Cali Home serves the ball during the Iowa Volleyball game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2018. Northwestern defeated Iowa 3-2.

Roman Slabach

Junior Cali Home serves the ball during the Iowa Volleyball game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2018. Northwestern defeated Iowa 3-2.

Roman Slabach

Roman Slabach

Junior Cali Home serves the ball during the Iowa Volleyball game against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2018. Northwestern defeated Iowa 3-2.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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After a tough weekend on the road, Iowa volleyball was ready but unable to regain its footing in a Wednesday night match against Northwestern, losing in a long five-set clash.

To meet Iowa’s goal of making the NCAA Tournament, its play has to be at the highest level during every match. Going a strong five sets is important.

“We have nine matches left in the season,” senior libero Molly Kelly said. “Every single match is huge in the Big Ten.”

Cali Hoye returned after being absent in the team’s losses over last weekend. Her presence made a massive difference, as she tallied 30 kills in the match.

Iowa lagged in the opening of the match. Northwestern standouts Abryanna Cannon and Nia Robinson helped put the Wildcats up early in the first set with a few strong kills and gritty blocks.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball looks to break a three-game losing streak

Iowa senior Reghan Coyle showed up to play, keeping the Hawkeyes close. She put up the team’s first 3 points with a few kills from the outside. Still, Northwestern crept its way into a 9-3 lead.

The Hawkeyes continued to lag. A low hitting percentage of .156 haunted the Hawkeyes in the first set, and the Wildcats hit a .429 percentage that boosted them, 25-15.

Much of the same happened in the second set. Kills from Cannon and Robinson kept the Wildcats on top. The Hawkeyes continued to lag, posting a lot of errors, but they were able to remain fairly close for the first half of the set.

The Hawkeyes won 6 of 7 points late with contributions from Hoye and Coyle, both posting kills. They gained a 20-19 lead, their first lead in the set since being up 2-1 early.

Back and forth ensued, and the teams were knotted at 30 late in the set. A block from Brie Orr finally put the Hawkeyes up, 31-30. Hoye was able to get a good look and posted her 13th kill of the set, giving the Hawkeyes the second set, 32-30.

Northwestern came out firing on all cylinders after the break to take the first 6 points of the third set.

Iowa continued to struggle. The Hawkeyes were unable to stop Robinson, who posted 3-straight kills to put an end to the third. Northwestern took the set, 25-18.

Iowa gained a steady lead early in the fourth and led narrowly for the remainder of the set. The Hawkeyes’ hitting consistency greatly improved to .400, making a huge difference in the tone of the set.

A block from Amiya Jones and Orr, paired with a kill from Hoye, led Iowa to a 25-17 victory.

The fifth set was understandably tense, with several lead changes and contentious points. The Wildcats gained some momentum after a long rally leading to a Robinson kill. A 6-1 scoring run ensued for the Wildcats, helping them to a 15-8 win.

“It was a roller coaster out there, just set by set,” Coyle said. “It was up, and it was down. We need to work on keeping it more consistent.”

Iowa will continues the week with a road match at Maryland on Oct. 28.

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