Iowa volleyball splits its second straight series in Evanston

The Hawkeyes got their first road win of the season in game one but could not repeat their performance on Saturday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Libero Joslyn Boyer jumps up to hit a serve during a women’s volleyball match between Iowa and Rutgers at Xtream Arena on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Hawkeyes 3 sets to 2.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

After sealing its first road win of the season against Northwestern on Friday, the Iowa volleyball team could not finish off the Wildcats on Saturday, as it split the two-day doubleheader.

In a weekend full of excitement, the Hawkeyes and the Wildcats played a combined 10 sets and 445 points to decide their two matches.

“Northwestern did a good job of working through the adversity presented in the third set,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said in a release. “Joslyn [Boyer] did a great job of competing with every serve, which gave us the run in the third set. We have to stay hungry until the end of the match.”

Iowa topped Northwestern in most of the team stats on Saturday, but it was the outstanding play from freshman setter Alex Rousseau that gave the Wildcats the edge.

Rousseau was filling in for Kiara McNulty, and tallied career-highs in assists (40), kills (8), and digs (5).

Junior Courtney Buzzerio was all over the court for Hawkeyes, as she finished with 15 kills, 19 assists, and a .333 hitting percentage.

Junior defensive specialist Maddie Slagle had a career night for the Hawkeyes with a career-high 16 digs.

The Wildcats started off the match strong with a 25-18 first set win, but they could not hold off the Hawkeyes in the second, as a 3-0 run from the Hawkeyes fed by two kills from Clayton gave the Hawkeyes the second set, 25-22.

Iowa continued that momentum into the third, holding Northwestern to only 12 points in that set.

Unfortunately for Iowa, Northwestern was in no mood for a rerun of the heartbreaking loss it had on Friday, and it would come back to win the next two sets, 25-21, and 16-14.

“The team is working hard to earn every point,” Brown said. “We are seeing the work we put in during the week for a balanced offense. Now, we have to develop our defense in order to stop primary attackers.”

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The Hawkeyes grabbed their first road win of the season on Friday against the Wildcats in another five-set thriller.

Buzzerio continued her strong play from the previous weekend with 14 kills, 21 assists, and a .346 hitting percentage. She finished two digs away from her second triple-double of the season.

Clayton tallied a career-high 14 kills to go along with her nine blocks and .407 hitting percentage.

After the Hawkeyes took the first set, 26-24, the second set required 14 extra points in order for Iowa to win it, 39-37.

Temi Thomas-Ailara had 10 kills in that set alone for Northwestern on the road to her 26 on the night.

With Iowa up 2-0, it looked like it would be able to close out Northwestern without too much trouble. Instead, Northwestern battled back with wins in the third set, 25-23, and the fourth, 25-17, to force a fifth set.

“We always talk about keeping things going and staying composed,” Brown said. “Looking at our juniors, who were not only composed, executed, and took over at certain points of the match.”

Iowa turned to its middle blockers in the final set with Jones and Clayton combining for five kills and Clayton coming through for two blocks in the 15-11 win.

“It was a true indication of how much this five-set match was a team win,” Brown said. “Everyone contributed to each point we got, and it was truly a team that was earned and not given.”