Iowa volleyball travels to Columbus in search of first road win of the year

The 1-5 Hawkeyes will take on a 4-0 Ohio State team that is red hot heading into this weekend’s series.


Casey Stone

Iowa Outside Hitter Edina Schmidt bumps the ball during the Iowa Volleyball game against Indiana on Feb. 6, 2021 at Xtream Arena. Indiana defeated Iowa 3-2.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

After grabbing its first victory of the 2021 season against Indiana at Xtream Arena Feb. 5, Iowa volleyball will look to get its first road win of the year in a two-day doubleheader against Ohio State in Columbus this weekend.

The Buckeyes won their first four games of the season and are 2-0 at home to start the year. Ohio State had two matches postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests in the Penn State program.

Iowa, on the other hand, is off to a 1-5 start and ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten Conference in digs, hitting percentage, and opponent blocks.

“I think moving forward for this weekend we just have to make it about our team,” sophomore outside hitter Edina Schmidt said. “We know that we have so much more to give and we have so much potential since we are a super young team with three freshmen starting, and I think in practice this week we just need to grind it out and we will be ready to go.”

Iowa is a younger team with just four upperclassmen compared to Ohio State’s seven, but most of the Buckeyes’ top players are freshmen and sophomores.

Sophomore setter Mac Podraza is third in the Big Ten in assists per set and sophomore libero Kylie Murr is fifth in the league in digs per set.

Freshmen Emily Londot leads the Buckeyes in kills and is fifth in the Big Ten in kills per set. The 6-foot-3 outside hitter is also third on the team in digs and blocks.

“When you see the film on [Londot], she is having a lot of success because she is able to run a vast difference of offense for them,” head coach Vicki Brown said. “If they need her on the right side, she is able to score there or if they put her on the outside or the middle, so she is a very unique athlete who is able to score and move around.”

Iowa’s Courtney Buzzerio has shown her versatility this year as well, leading the Hawkeyes in kills with 56. She is second in assists and digs with 83 and 47, respectively.

RELATED: Boyer and Ortega career highs not enough for Iowa volleyball against Indiana

Buzzerio tallied her third triple-double of her career in Saturday’s match against Indiana, making her the only Big Ten player with a triple-double this season and the only player in Hawkeye history with multiple triple-doubles.

Junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton was a force for the Hawkeyes in their last series too, as she amassed a career-high 13 kills Feb. 5 and a team-high eight blocks Feb. 6.

Iowa’s hitters will have to find a way to get it past the strong backcourt of Ohio State.

Even though the Buckeyes are only 10th in the conference in blocks, under new head coach Jenn Flynn Oldenburg, the program is holding teams to the fourth-lowest league hitting percentage. The Buckeyes also rank third in the Big Ten in digs per set.

“It’s really just understanding that their block is funneling more balls to their stronger backcourt defenders,” Brown said. “We just go to the drawing board of what film they’ll have on us from an offensive standpoint and how we can work against their block and work into their holes on defense in the back row.”

Iowa was swept by the Buckeyes in the season series in 2019 after beating them in the previous three meetings dating back to 2017. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 62-12.

The Hawkeyes will battle Ohio State on Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio. Both matches will be streamed on BTN+.