Iowa volleyball sweeps Michigan State in final home match of 2020-21 season

Iowa downed Michigan State, 3-0, Saturday night, snapping a six-match losing streak.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Setter Bailey Ortega sets a ball during a volleyball match between Iowa and Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, March 27, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans 3-0.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

In its final home match of the 2020-21 season, Iowa volleyball picked up its first win in the month of March, snapping a six-match losing streak.

The Hawkeyes pieced together one of their best performances of the year, sweeping Michigan State, 3-0.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Iowa had not notched a victory since Feb. 26.

“I don’t know if it’s we say last game in practice or what it is,” Iowa head volleyball coach Vicki Brown said postgame. “They’re just a determined team. They really want to be always showing signs of progress, and I think we just approached the game completely different. Instead of being a little bit antsy and guessing, we were steady, and we were actually making really good first steps on the ball.”

Sophomore libero Joslyn Boyer had a career night Saturday, amassing a personal-best 25 digs — 10 of which came in the second set.

Boyer did not, however, cite her own personal performance as the driving force behind Iowa’s victory. Rather, she attributed Saturday’s win to the Hawkeyes’ toughness and resilience.

“It just says a lot about this team and our grit and competitiveness that we take it one day at a time, and it doesn’t matter what happened the last day,” Boyer said. “We’re in the moment, and we knew that our volleyball ability would be able to do that.”

Just as they were in Friday night’s loss, the Hawkeyes were excellent on the attack in the first set Saturday. Iowa finished Saturday’s opening set with a .256 hitting percentage and 18 kills.

Despite their success on the attack, Iowa still found itself trailing, 15-11, during the first set.

After a timeout, the Hawkeyes made a charge late in the first set, rallying behind two kills from junior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio.

Eventually, the Hawkeyes tied the opening set at 16, forcing Michigan State to call a timeout. From there, Iowa claimed a 19-16 lead, causing Michigan State head coach Cathy George to call for time again.

While the Spartans did claw their way to a 22-all, first-set tie, the Hawkeyes finally closed the door in set No. 1 with a 3-0 run that was capped by freshman outside hitter Audrey Black.

In the second set, Iowa manufactured a 4-0 run late to go up, 24-18. Once again, the Spartans did not go down without a fight, responding with a 4-0 run of their own to trail 24-22 with set No. 2 on the line.

Michigan State, however, doomed itself is set two, committing an attacking error to lose, 25-22.

“We didn’t let them go on a lot of runs just point-wise and that just helped us get that next ball mentality and move on if we errored,” Buzzerio said. “And then if we errored, it wasn’t weird or not what we usually do. We were going for it and attacking hard and high.”

The final set proved that Saturday was simply the Hawkeyes’ day. Iowa committed six attack errors on the set, but three players earned three kills each.

In the end, the Hawkeyes had a better hitting percentage than the Spartans in each set, though Iowa did commit 20 total attacking errors compared to the Spartans’ 19.

Iowa — now 4-14 overall in 2020-21 — will play its final matches of the regular season April 2 and 3 against 13-2 Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“It’s going to be a unique challenge, a different challenge,” Brown said. “And we need to make sure we’re taking care of our side of the court. That’s where our focus will be.”

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