Hannah Clayton leads Iowa volleyball to its first win of the season

Iowa defeated Indiana, 3-1, in its first match at Xtream Arena.


Grace Smith

Iowa players huddle up after receiving the point volleyball match between Illinois and Iowa on Saturday Jan 23, 2021 at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Fighting Illini, 3-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

Friday’s match for the Iowa volleyball team was a night of firsts. The first match at Xtream Arena, the first win of the 2021 season, and the first time Hannah Clayton has tallied 13 kills in a match. 

The first match in Xtream Arena went almost exactly as Iowa drew it up, as the program defeated Indiana, 3-1, at home.

“This journey to the win was not an easy task because we’re playing with a relatively new lineup for this year, and we have gone through a lot of adversity at the beginning,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said. “This was truly a win that just feels really good.”

Midway through the fourth set, after tallying her third kill in a row, Clayton turned to her teammates and shrugged her shoulders with a smile. 

That was the type of night Clayton had, as she tallied a career-high 13 kills with an outstanding .667 hitting percentage. 

Clayton’s previous career-high was eleven, which she also set against Indiana last season. 

“Things just clicked today, and they usually do against Indiana, I don’t know what it is [about them],” Clayton said. “Our passing line did a great job, and our setters were able to spread out the offense, and it was open for me to swing.”

The six-foot-two-inch junior also finished with eight total blocks on the night which tied Blythe Rients for the team-high. 

“To see her just do a lot of things that we worked on, and just to see it in a game at such a high level, I am just really proud of Hannah and all that she is doing,” Brown said. “For all of the players and with Hannah leading the charge, we can be at a higher level of play consistently.”

Iowa went down early, losing the first set, 25-20, as Indiana was able to power through the hands of the Iowa frontcourt with ease.

RELATED: Hawkeyes set for first match at Xtream Arena

Second-Team All-Big Ten outside hitter Breana Edwards had five kills for Indiana in the first set, and middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede slated a perfect attacking percentage with four kills for Indiana. 

“We have rehearsed that in practice as far as, here’s another set, we didn’t reach our goal, let’s run it again,” Brown said. “So we have definitely practiced that of coming back and reaching our goal even though we go down a set.”

The Hawkeyes turned it around in the second set with an 8-0 run that put them ahead, 13-5. A kill from sophomore outside hitter Kyndra Hansen sealed the set for the Hawkeyes, 25-15.   

The third set was a back and forth affair that saw the most lead changes of the night (4). After Iowa tied it up at 24 off a kill from Edina Shmidt, the team was able to grab the third set and the lead through a kill from Blythe Rients and an assisted block from Rients and Courtney Buzzerio. 

“Our blocking was a key point,” Buzzerio said. “Even when we weren’t getting stuff blocks we were able to get touches and that transitioned into good transition play and middles getting up and getting good touches.”

The Hawkeyes rode their momentum into the fourth set and were able to play elite defense that held the Hoosiers to only 17 points. 

After struggling early, Buzzerio flipped the switch and finished with three kills, five assists, and five blocks in the fourth set alone. 

Iowa will run it again with Indiana Saturday at 4 p.m. at Xtream Arena. The match will be Indiana on BTN+.

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