Iowa volleyball hosts Wolverines, Spartans at home this weekend

Iowa is looking to get back on track at home this weekend, which will be no easy task against Michigan and Michigan State.

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Iowa volleyball hosts Wolverines, Spartans at home this weekend

Iowa outside hitter Griere Hughes goes for a kill during a volleyball match between Iowa and Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, September 21, 2019. The Hawkeyes fell to the visiting Cyclones, 3-2.

Iowa outside hitter Griere Hughes goes for a kill during a volleyball match between Iowa and Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, September 21, 2019. The Hawkeyes fell to the visiting Cyclones, 3-2.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa outside hitter Griere Hughes goes for a kill during a volleyball match between Iowa and Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, September 21, 2019. The Hawkeyes fell to the visiting Cyclones, 3-2.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa outside hitter Griere Hughes goes for a kill during a volleyball match between Iowa and Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, September 21, 2019. The Hawkeyes fell to the visiting Cyclones, 3-2.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

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After facing three ranked teams in a row — including two in the top 10 — the Iowa volleyball team will have a chance to get back to winning ways this weekend as they face Michigan and Michigan State. The Hawkeyes have showed fight in recent matches, including taking a set from Minnesota, but the team is looking to tally more Big Ten wins.

Iowa kicks off the weekend against the Michigan Wolverines (11-3), who have started the Big Ten season unbeaten so far. In fact, Michigan has not dropped a set since the start of league play. 

“I think it’s more about seizing the moment,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said. “We have opportunities where we can finish out sets and matches.”

The Wolverines play a similar style of volleyball compared to the Hawkeyes with slightly more accelerated stats in most categories. Both teams have similar amounts of kills per set, with Michigan being more proficient with a .289 attacking percent versus Iowa’s .261. Both teams have similar assists per set and digs per set, so Iowa must excel in these areas if they want to beat Michigan.

“Michigan is a team that doesn’t make a lot of errors,” Brown said. “They’re very stoic in a way. They’re up and down, but there is not much of a difference between their up and down.”

Sophomore Paige Jones leads the Wolverines in kills per set at 3.63 and has a respectable attacking percentage of .283. The Hawkeyes will also need to be wary of setter MacKenzie Welsh, who boasts an impressive 11.20 assists per set.

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Although the Wolverines have a slight talent drain in comparison to their normal high standards, this should be a tightly contested matchup for Iowa. The Hawkeyes will come into the game well prepared, as the team has faced five ranked teams while Michigan has not seen a single ranked opponent.

The Hawkeyes will have a day to rest before facing the Michigan State Spartans (11-3), who have had an up and down start to the Big Ten slate after easing through the early portion of the season. 

Wins against Maryland and Ohio State for the Spartans have been canceled out by a tight loss to the Terrapins away from home and a thumping in the hands of Penn State.

The Hawkeyes are a much more aggressive team than the Spartans, with Iowa posting nearly one more kill per set on average and recording more assists on average. Both teams post near identical attacking percentages at .260 and .261, but Michigan State averages over one more block per set than Iowa.

Michigan State is unique in that they have three different players averaging over 4.50 assists per set but none over six. This sharing of the ball will be something the team will have to adjust to. 

If Iowa can elongate points and implement an aggressive style from the start with this in mind, there is a chance the Spartans could get overwhelmed, as they did against Penn State. 

Griere Hughes is becoming an even more important player for the Hawkeyes, and she will be crucial in this match with an active team high of 3.49 kills per set. Against a difficult net defence, Hughes and Courtney Buzzerio will be difference makers.

The match against Michigan begins at 7 p.m. today, while the Hawkeyes take on Michigan State at 1 p.m. Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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