Disappointing season comes to an end for Iowa volleyball

A 10-21 finish is one no team ever wants to have. The Hawkeyes hope to learn from this season to ensure success moving forward.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's Emily Bushman talks with her teammates during a volleyball match between Iowa and Michigan State on Friday, September 21, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 3 sets to 0.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

The 2019 volleyball season has officially come and gone for the Hawkeyes. On Sunday, the Big Ten Conference announced that seven of its teams have made the NCAA tournament. Iowa was not among the teams selected.

A rocky season began for the Hawkeyes back in June. Then head coach Bond Shymansky was terminated by the University of Iowa due to a violation of NCAA recruiting rules. Associate head coach Vicki Brown was then given the title of Interim Head Coach.

Brown and her Hawkeyes started the season off strong. At the James Madison Tournament Aug. 30-31, the Hawkeyes went 3-0. A win over then No. 22 Washington State highlighted the tournament.

The Hawkeyes then hosted Washington Sep. 6 and Colorado Sep. 7 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. Iowa lost both of its first two games at home.

After about three weeks of play, the Hawkeyes suffered their first setback. They lost senior Meghan Buzzerio to a season-ending ACL injury. Buzzerio, a team captain, was expected to lead the Hawkeyes on the attack and in the locker room.

The Hawkeyes were never the same without Buzzerio. Overall, the Hawkeyes were 5-18 with their star outside hitter absent.

Despite the loss of Buzzerio, Iowa finished non-conference play with a winning record at 6-5. Brown’s interim tag was removed just before Big Ten Conference play began. Brown inked a five-year contract extension on Sept. 26.

In Evanston on Sep. 27, the Hawkeyes won their first Big Ten matchup of the season, defeating the Wildcats 3-1. After that victory, Iowa’s success was extremely limited. Iowa went 23 days without winning before picking up two wins in six days, both against Indiana.

During that stretch of wins, the Hawkeyes absorbed another crushing loss off the court. Junior setter Brie Orr suffered a concussion Oct. 20 during Iowa’s trip to Indiana. After losing Buzzerio, Orr was Iowa’s strongest leader. She had eclipsed 3,000-career assists shortly before her injury. Orr’s lone appearance following the injury came at Michigan on Nov. 13.

Losing Orr for an extended period was devastating for Iowa. The Hawkeyes dropped nine-straight games following their second victory over Indiana. Their last win of the season came in their final game of the season Nov. 30. Iowa defeated Maryland on Senior Night, 3-1 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa finished the season 10-21 overall and posted a 4-16 conference record.

RELATED: Volleyball concludes season with win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

“It wasn’t exactly what we wanted this season,” senior Emily Bushman said. “We have a lot of potential moving forward as a program. I think there’s really bright things in the future. Again, it’s about working hard, and not giving up and having that same attitude going after it all the time.”

Defensive specialist Maddie Slagle recognizes that the season did not go the way Iowa wanted it to but agreed with Bushman that winning times could be ahead.

“[This season] was a little rough,” Slagle said. “I truly believe that if we all focus in and have the drive to win, then I think we can succeed.”

Despite the hardships 2019 presented, the Hawkeyes remain optimistic, barreling toward 2020. Iowa volleyball will move into its new home, Xtream Arena, starting next season. The 24th ranked recruiting class of 2018 now has a season of play under its belt, and Brown has one full year of head coaching experience in her back pocket.

“I think the biggest thing is just understanding that our team has lessons they have to learn in this season,” Brown said. “Next season there will be new lessons to learn. I’m just excited to be the head coach for the volleyball team, and in particular, this team. First year was really just about getting the experience.”

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