Boyer booms in second season in Black and Gold

Joslyn Boyer has emerged as one of the lone bright spots on a Hawkeye team that is struggling in a bevy of defensive categories.


Casey Stone

Iowa Defensive Specialist Joslyn Boyer 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

In 2019, defensive specialist Joslyn Boyer led all Hawkeye freshmen in playing time, making three starts.

Eight games into her sophomore season, Boyer has started every match for Iowa, set a career-high in digs on three separate occasions, and averaged 3.83 digs per set.

“Joslyn has done outstanding, I mean, if you look at her numbers the past few matches, she has been all over the place,” junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton said. “She is super scrappy and has filled in that place well. I know Halle Johnston was a really good contributor last year, but I think Joslyn has really stepped up.”

Boyer has averaged 5.45 digs per set in her last three games.

The Downers Grove, Illinois, native has been one of the lone bright spots on a Hawkeye team that is struggling defensively. Iowa is 12th in the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage, 11th in blocks, and 12th in digs.

Boyer has almost exclusively carried the digs load for Iowa as outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio has the second-most digs per set behind Boyer at 1.9. No other backcourt Hawkeye is averaging more than 1.6 digs per set.

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“Obviously the first couple of matches it’s just like getting comfortable and being more confident,” Boyer said. “As the season has gone on, I have felt very comfortable and am really just growing into that role and making it mine.”

Boyer probably wasn’t going to be Iowa’s starting libero before the 2020-21 season began, as now-senior Halle Johnston occupied that role last year. Johnston has since opted to sit out this season because of COVID-19, vaulting Boyer into her new role.

Johnston left Boyer with big shoes to fill. Last year, Johnston led the Hawkeyes in digs and averaged the second-most digs per set in the Big Ten with 4.58.

“It’s always a competition, it’s a Big Ten, Division I school,” Boyer said. “That’s what I thrive on. I love competing and even all of last year it was always in practice you walk in and it’s a competition, so I have been ready to step into this role.”

Coming into the season, Boyer’s career-high in digs was 14 — set against Indiana in October 2019.

Boyer surpassed that number in the first match of the 2020-21 season against Illinois with 15 digs. The next day, she usurped that total, amassing 17 digs.

Boyer hit her current career-high, 21-dig mark in the Hawkeyes’ sixth game of the year, once again having a record day against the Hoosiers.

“It is just kind of focusing on what you are doing in that moment,” Boyer said. “That is one thing Vicki talks about is stay in the moment and focus on what you are doing then and there.”

With the 5-foot-6 sophomore locking down the backcourt on defense, Brown said she would now like to expand Boyer’s role, and use her more in the passing game on offense.

In 104 sets played in 2019-20, Boyer only had 23 assists. She set a new career-high in assists in her first matchup against Indiana in 2020-21 with six. Boyer has already accumulated 17 assists on the year.

“I think the biggest contributor for her is more our passing,” Brown said. “She is just taking so many more balls, and that is what we communicated with her.”