No. 6 Nebraska sweeps Iowa volleyball at home

Iowa volleyball looked to upset No. 6 Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday night. The Huskers proved their dominance and swept the Hawkeyes on their home court.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa coach Bond Shymansky coaches the team on a timeout during a volleyball match between Iowa and Michigan State on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball welcomed No. 6 Nebraska to Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday night, hoping to upset the Big Ten juggernaut and gain some late-season momentum.

The Iowa team regained much of its chemistry and stamina, which it had lost during a cold streak over the last several weeks,  last weekend in matches against Penn State and Rutgers.

With the upsetting news of senior Cali Hoye’s season-ending knee injury, the Hawkeyes were pressured with stepping up in the absence of the key difference-maker and continuing its solid play.

“It’s obviously tough not having everybody on our team, but other players are stepping up,” said senior Reghan Coyle. “It’s exciting having other people on the court. Everyone’s using her uniqueness. We’ll work with it.”

Iowa was able to keep up with the Nebraska team through the opening half of the first set. Meghan Buzzerio and Taylor Louis matched the elite Huskers, each making big swings for kills in the set.

Despite the hole left by Hoye, the Hawkeyes’ chemistry — which has ailed in recent weeks — seemed rather strong

The Huskers, with a huge following of fans in the crowd, were able to gain momentum and began to pull away. As had been expected, that was largely due to the efforts from standout hitter Mikaela Foecke, who gave the Hawkeye middles trouble throughout the night.

On the backs of Foecke and a set-ending kill from middle blocker Lauren Stivrins, Nebraska was able to pull out the first set, 25-15. The Huskers held Iowa to a low hitting percentage of .022 in the first set, handing Iowa 3 blocks. 

RELATED: Iowa volleyball sweeps Rutgers, gets dominated by No. 7 Penn State 

The Hawkeyes were able to keep the Huskers in check early in the next set.

Back-and-forth play eventually gave the Hawks an edge. Coyle gained fire in midway through the second set with three-straight burning kills.

This, combined with defensive efforts from Molly Kelly and her 1,000th career dig, paved the way for a 5-point Hawkeye scoring run, and Iowa gained a 17-12 lead.

“It said a lot about our defensive effort as a team,” said Kelly on her career milestone. “Bond [Shymansky] says be gritty on defense, both blocking and as a back row, and that just kind of shows.”

Still, a kill from Nebraska’s Lexi Sun and an ace serve from Foecke allowed the Huskers to claw back and take a late 21-20 lead.

Hawkeye hitting consistency greatly improved through the second, but the Huskers still cruised to a 25-22 win in the set.

Nebraska proved its dominance in the third and final set of the night.

The Huskers got it going early and leaped out to a big lead. Sun and Foecke continued to wreak havoc on the short-handed Iowa middles and hitters.

Frocke and Sun together posted 24 kills, much of their work coming in the third set that stifled any whisper of Iowa momentum. The Hawks struggled with hitting consistency, posting a low .070 in the face of 6 team blocks by Nebraska.

Nebraska cruised to a 25-13 win in the third set to finish the sweep.

“I keep reassuring our team that we’ve still got something,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “We still have something great we can accomplish this season. We’re working so hard to fight and find our identity right now, and the Big Ten doesn’t let you do that very easily, so I’m proud of the way we battled.”

Iowa volleyball will travel to face Michigan State on Saturday for a bout against the Spartans.

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