Hawkeye volleyball looking forward to spring start

The Hawkeyes will kick off their season this Friday against Illinois.


Ryan Adams

Iowa players celebrate a point during a volleyball match between the University of Iowa and University of Maryland at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, November 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins 3-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s volleyball team will return to the court for the first time since November of 2019 this Friday.

The Hawkeyes finished 11th in the Big Ten Conference last year with a 10-21 record overall and only four conference wins. 

“We have used the fall to make up for the time that the team lost in the spring doing a lot of competition in practice,” second-year head coach Vicki Brown said. “We have done a lot of six-versus-six things and even spent a couple of days playing in our jerseys.”

While the Hawkeyes had a plethora of issues on offense and defense, their blocking was a weakness that the Big Ten Conference’s heavy hitters exposed frequently.

Iowa allowed the highest opponent hitting percentage (.261) and had the lowest block total (352) in the Big Ten.

“It was a big focus in practice because that is something we need to get better at,” junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton said. “Breaking it down and focusing on that and also making it a big focus for the middle blockers.”

Starting this season, the Hawkeyes will be playing on a new home floor at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, instead of at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Going from Carver to Xtream will benefit the program and will be important,” junior Courtney Buzzerio said. “Having a place to call our own will be important and exciting.”

This season, the Hawkeyes will also be playing at a different time of year. Typically, NCAA Division I Volleyball is played during the fall, from August to December. But, because of COVID-19, the 2020-21 NCAA volleyball season will be held in the spring, from January to April.

Big Ten teams will play conference-only schedules with games against the same opponent on Friday and Saturday each week to minimize travel and potential exposure to COVID-19. 

“We will be watching a lot of film after the first game,” sophomore outside hitter Kyndra Hansen said. “The morning practice the next day is going to be very critical in order to continue doing what you were doing if you won, or figure out what went wrong if you lost.”

Iowa will face a young Illinois team in its first two matches of the season on Jan. 22 and 23 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, rather than its new home, Xtream Arena, which will be occupied by another event this weekend. 

The Fighting Illini lost two key players in the frontcourt from last season, first-team All-Big Ten outside hitter Jacqueline Quade and second-team All-Big Ten middle blocker Ashlyn Fleming. 

Senior outside hitter Megan Cooney and 2019 All-Big Ten freshman team setter Diana Brown will look to fill the void left by the two leaders. 

While both teams have young and inexperienced rosters, Hansen said that the Hawkeyes are very scrappy, and they feel like they can touch every ball that comes back at them.

According to the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, the Big Ten Conference will be stacked again this year, leaving the Hawkeyes with just one goal in mind.

“[Making] the NCAA tournament and fighting to have a winning mentality,” Brown said. “Our goal is not just to get through the season but our goal is to win.”

Iowa’s two matchups with Illinois this weekend are slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and 12 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be streaming on BTN+

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