Tubbs bolsters Iowa volleyball’s team chemistry

Sophomore Grace Tubbs appeared in her first match of the season on Friday and registered her first block and kill in the win against Indiana.


Nichole Harris

Middle blocker Grace Tubbs follows the ball during the Iowa and Nebraska volleyball game. The Huskers defeated the Hawkeyes in three sets on November 9, 2019, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball’s Feb. 5 matchup against Indiana was special for the Hawkeyes for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it was Iowa’s inaugural match at Xtream Arena, and second, it saw the Hawkeyes pick up their first win of the season.

The Hawkeyes were up 21-13 against Indiana late in the fourth set and had the momentum to put the Hoosiers away.

At that time, head coach Vicki Brown turned to the bench and called on No. 16 to sub in at middle blocker.

Frequent substitutions are routine in volleyball and are therefore not typically cause for a reaction from those in attendance.

When sophomore Grace Tubbs took the court late in the fourth set, though, her teammates on the bench and the match’s limited attendees made their voices heard to cheer on the Clinton, Iowa, native.

“Grace Tubbs, for us, the best way to describe her as a teammate is just genuine,” Brown said. “If she is celebrating because you get a point, you know it is from the heart because she knows what you did to get there and to get that point.”

As a sophomore sitting behind experienced middle blockers like junior Hannah Clayton, Tubbs has not gotten much playing time thus far in her college career. Her appearance against Indiana was her first of the year and only her fifth as a Hawkeye.

Even though she is not a regular rotation player, Tubbs is a locker room presence that improves team chemistry and contributes a lot behind the scenes.

“Grace is just an amazing teammate and an amazing friend,” sophomore outside hitter Edina Schmidt said. “She gives so much to the team, and I think that is why everyone got so excited and super happy for her.”

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Not much time is spent recognizing the contribution of bench players in practice to help prepare their teammates for game situations.

Tubbs has embraced the role of challenging the starters and other key playmakers to help them play at the highest level possible.

“I think my biggest role is in practice pushing the girls that do play to their absolute hardest and making them better every practice,” Tubbs said. “When we get into games and I see all of the things that we have been working on come out during those games, I think that’s when I know that my role on the team is fulfilling and I know that I am doing my job.

Tubbs did not waste her time on the court Friday, as she quickly assisted a block on Indiana’s second-team All-Big Ten outside hitter Breana Edwards and hammered home a kill to set up the match point for Iowa.

Xtream Arena was the loudest it had been all night as Tubbs joined the huddle with her teammates after the block.

“The celebration was gratitude because she has always been such a giver to our team, and what better way than to just completely go crazy when she gets that block or gets that kill,” Brown said. “I really do think it was just the team’s way of showing appreciation for all that she has given to the team.

Tubbs did not play in Saturday’s loss to Indiana but is ready in case her name gets called again.

“It’s that be-ready mentality, you never know what is going to happen, and you never know what the other team is going to put up,” Tubbs said. “Just staying ready and staying positive, and if your name is called getting warm and not letting your nerves get the best of you.”