Iowa volleyball drops second straight match to Illinois in last match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

The Hawkeyes weren’t able to capitalize on a third set win, falling to the Illini, 3-1.


Casey Stone

Iowa Outside Hitter Audrey Black hits the ball over the net during the Iowa Volleyball season opener game against Illinois on Jan. 22, 2021 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Illinois defeated Iowa 3-1.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

In its last game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the Iowa volleyball team lost its second straight match to Illinois, 3-1, on Saturday. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini in a similar fashion, 3-1, on Friday, moving their record to 0-2 to start the season.

Iowa lost the first two sets to Illinois, 25-20 and 25-13, respectively. The third set showed a glimmer of hope for the Hawkeyes, who won the set, 25-19. But the Fighting Illini used a 10-0 run in the fourth set to overtake the Hawkeyes, 25-13.

Outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio noted mentality as a big part of the Hawkeyes’ success in the third set.

“Our plan was to just swing away and attack, and have that attack mentality going through the set,” Buzzerio said. “We definitely lost that mentality in the fourth set, and it showed.”

It was déjà vu for the Hawkeye attack strategy in the fourth set, which was plagued by the Fighting Illini’s blocks and scoring runs, something that impacted the Hawkeyes for two days in a row.

In the first match against the Fighting Illini on Friday night, the Hawkeyes led in the fourth set, 21-16, before the Fighting Illini used a 5-0 run to ultimately overtake the Hawkeyes and win the match. On Saturday, the Fighting Illini used a 10-0 run to come out on top.

“The thing for both nights was just giving teams runs at key moments of the set,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said. “At the beginning, or after five points, or as we head into double digits… we have to just nip that in the bud… The big difference too is just how do we not make the same error, back-to-back as well. We got blocked a couple times, and that changed up our attack mentality on our swing, so then it allowed for another blocked ball.”

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Saturday’s match was the last of the season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the Hawkeyes, who are moving to Xtream Arena in Coralville for the rest of the season and beyond. Iowa will make its debut at Xtream Arena against Indiana on Feb. 5.

“It’s bittersweet,” libero Joslyn Boyer said. “For the past three years, Carver has been home, and I’ve spent numerous, numerous hours here. It is bittersweet, but it’s also very exciting to be going into Xtream, and just the new memories and wins we’ll get there, I’m looking forward to.”

The volleyball team’s move to Xtream Arena will reduce congestion in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which also houses Iowa’s men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and men’s and women’s gymnastics teams. At Xtream Arena, the Iowa volleyball program will have a place to call its own.

“Carver is such a cool place to play in, even without fans,” Buzzerio said. “But I think we’re all really excited to get into Xtream and call that place our home.”

The Iowa volleyball team has a unique schedule this year because of COVID-19. In a conference-only schedule, teams are taking weekend trips to play the same team back-to-back. Iowa heads to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers on Jan. 29 and 30.

The Hawkeyes know an adjustment they’ll have to make for those matches.

“I think we need to have that attack mentality through the whole match,” Buzzerio said. “And not just set one when we’re all pumped up, or when we’re down 0-2 and we have to. Having that consistent mentality and just going for the ball defensively I think will really help us when teams are attacking us.”