Hawkeyes struggle in West Lafayette

Iowa volleyball went 0-2 in its weekend doubleheader against No. 13 Purdue.


Casey Stone

Iowa outside hitter Audrey Black and Iowa setter Bailey Ortega high five one another during the Iowa Volleyball season opener game against Illinois on Jan. 22, 2021 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Illinois defeated Iowa 3-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

After a weekend doubleheader with Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, Iowa volleyball is still searching for its first win of the season.

The No. 13 Boilermakers overpowered the Hawkeyes both offensively and defensively on Friday and Saturday, holding Iowa to under 20 points in all but one set.

On Saturday, Purdue began the game scorching hot, maintaining a lead of four points or more for much of its 25-16 win in the first set.

The second set of the game was closer, but eventually, three-straight Hawkeye attacking errors gave the Boilermakers a 25-15 win in the second set.

Iowa appeared as if it might challenge Purdue during set three on Saturday. The Hawkeyes overcame a 19-14 deficit to get within striking distance of a set win, trailing 20-23.

The Boilermakers, however, quickly dispatched the Hawkeye rally via two kills produced by sophomore Emma Ellis, ending the third set and the game.

“The third set was a little bit of a slow start at the beginning, but this team is resilient,” head coach Vicki Brown said in a release. “We talked a lot about pride going into the second match this morning and making sure we are making every team earn every point. We fight to the very end and it was good to see the team do that.”

Freshman defensive specialist Leanne Lowry and junior Courtney Buzzerio proved to be the lone bright spots for the Hawkeyes over the weekend.

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Lowry made her first career start in the Black and Gold on Saturday and recorded a team-high 13 digs.

“[Lowry] has a good eye for the game,” Brown said. “She will continue to get more consistent as she plays. To see a freshman be able to do that against a strong attacking team in Purdue is impressive.”

Buzzerio was three kills away from a triple-double Saturday, as she finished the day with 12 assists, 10 digs, and seven kills.

Freshman Audrey Black also started for the first time as a Hawkeye Saturday, and she produced a team-high ten kills.

“It’s good to see Audrey have back-to-back nights of executing,” Brown said.  “For her to be able to step up and get us out of a rotation, that was really inspiring to see her do that back-to-back nights.”

Black and Lowry were part of Brown’s decision to shakeup her lineup and offensive tactics after an 0-2 start.

Three freshmen – Black, Lowry, and setter Bailey Ortega – started for Iowa Saturday.

While Black did lead the team in kills on Saturday, she needed a high volume of attacks to obtain those kills, as she registered 64 total attacks on the weekend. Her 33 attempts on Friday and 31 attempts on Saturday were both team-highs.

Despite Black’s performance, Iowa’s attacking woes continued, as it posted a .067 attacking percentage on Friday and a .198 on Saturday. Comparatively, Purdue’s attacking percentages on Friday and Saturday were .346 and .423, respectively.

After falling in straight sets on both Friday and Saturday at Purdue, 0-4 Iowa will play its first two matches at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, against the Indiana Hoosiers on Feb. 5 and 6.

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