Hawkeye volleyball primed for big weekend

After an impressive showing at Nebraska last Saturday, the Hawkeyes are prepared to launch into another big weekend.

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Hawkeye volleyball primed for big weekend

Iowa's Hannah Clayton (18) and Courtney Buzzerio block a spike during a match against the University of Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini, who won 3-0. Clayton led the Hawkeyes in blocks with four blocks.

Iowa's Hannah Clayton (18) and Courtney Buzzerio block a spike during a match against the University of Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini, who won 3-0. Clayton led the Hawkeyes in blocks with four blocks.

Hannah Kinson

Iowa's Hannah Clayton (18) and Courtney Buzzerio block a spike during a match against the University of Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini, who won 3-0. Clayton led the Hawkeyes in blocks with four blocks.

Hannah Kinson

Hannah Kinson

Iowa's Hannah Clayton (18) and Courtney Buzzerio block a spike during a match against the University of Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini, who won 3-0. Clayton led the Hawkeyes in blocks with four blocks.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

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Iowa volleyball’s struggles in conference play this season have been well-documented. The Hawkeyes are 3-13 in conference play and have dropped their last six games.

Last Saturday, the Hawkeyes showed some signs of life. Iowa pushed Nebraska to the brink before losing in five sets. At one point, the Cornhuskers trailed the Hawkeyes, one set to two.

Iowa’s newfound exuberance can be greatly attributed to head coach Vicki Brown’s game plan. With team captain Brie Orr once again sitting out due to injury, Brown went a different route at setter.

RELATED: Volleyball comes up short against Nebraska

Rather than starting sophomore Courtney Buzzerio at the position, Brown elected to start true freshman Emma Lowes. The change allowed Buzzerio to move back outside and greatly benefitted the Hawkeyes.

“I think [the change] kind of fixed some of our problems we’ve been trying to figure out,” Brown said. “Running the 6-2 really helped balance out rotations. It helped us defensively, as well.”

After being flexed back outside, Buzzerio was able to achieve one of the rarest feats in volleyball. Buzzerio is the first Hawkeye in 14 years record a triple-double. She joined Kiley Fister and Fabiana De Abreu as the only Hawkeyes to net the accomplishment in the last 20 years. Buzzerio achieved the feat by recording 18 kills, 20 assists, and 10 digs.

“I wanted to hit bad, really bad, and get back into the swing of things and help the team that way,” Buzzerio said. “Knowing that [last Wednesday’s loss to Michigan] wasn’t my best match and having that under my belt kind of fueled me a little bit just to do better and be more effective hitting and setting.”

Lowes was effective in her first start as a Hawkeye. The freshman finished the game with 22 assists.

“I’d say I felt pretty ready,” Lowes said. “I wasn’t super nervous. I was probably more excited because [it was] such a big game, and it was my first start and not even at my own position. It was more exciting for me, not super nerve-wracking, just knowing that I get to be out there for my team.”

The Hawkeyes’ last road trip of the season is now in front of them. Iowa will travel to Madison to take on No. 5 Wisconsin on Friday. Then, they will head to Minneapolis for a rematch with the No. 7 Golden Gophers on Saturday.

“I think we need to expect a big fight,” Lowes said. “They saw us do big things against Nebraska, so they know we’re not just going to lay down. We’re going to give them a run for their money. It is [both Minnesota and Wisconsin’s] senior night, so they’re going to have big crowds with lots of excitement going into their last home matches of the season. We just have to be ready for anything.”

Friday will mark the first time Iowa has seen Wisconsin this season. The Badgers are the best team in the Big Ten Conference according to AVCA polls.

Iowa’s rematch with Minnesota will mark the end of a brutal stretch that pits the Hawkeyes against the AVCA’s fifth, sixth, and seventh-ranked teams in consecutive games. When the two Big Ten adversaries met earlier this season, Iowa stole a set from the Golden Gophers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I’d say we gained a lot of confidence from [the Nebraska match],” Lowes said. “Although we didn’t win, it definitely showed us that we have big potential to go into these next two matches and really give everybody a run for their money.”

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