Young outside hitters set to lead Iowa volleyball’s future

Iowa’s Edina Schmidt, Kyndra Hansen, and Audrey Black are up and coming outside hitters.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa outside hitter Edina Schmidt gets a point 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.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

Junior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio has been Iowa’s kill leader for the majority of the spring season and has done it all for the Hawkeyes this season.

The Chino Hills, California, native is also second in assists, digs, and total blocks.

But after last weekend’s series against Michigan State where she tallied 22 kills in two games, sophomore outside hitter Edina Schmidt now wears the crown for most kills with 172.

“I honestly didn’t realize that,” Schmidt said. “And I’m a little bit surprised that it turned out that way. On the court, I’m just very calm and my teammates trust me, and I have the trust to put the ball away in tricky situations.”

Buzzerio and Schmidt are the headliners for a young group of outside hitters that Iowa is looking at for the future of their offense.

Iowa’s top two hitters are both sitting right around 2.5 kills per set this season which, unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, is almost a full kill per set away from the top names in the conference.

That being said, what has been exciting about this group has been their progression.

Schmidt is the only international player on the team, and the Berlin, Germany, native’s numbers have really taken a jump from her freshman year. She is averaging .681 more kills per set, 13.325 more attack attempts per game, and has managed to up her attacking percentage this season even with the increase in offensive use.

She now leads the team in total attack attempts and is just shy of having 100 more attempts than Buzzerio, who is second on the team in that category.

“I would say that wasn’t predetermined but just more earned by Edina,” Iowa head volleyball coach Vicki Brown said. “With Edina going into her second season, it’s always a question of how do you take what you learned from that first season of being an outside in attacking range and how do you apply another year of experience.”

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

The Hawkeyes have not had someone in the top 10 in the conference in kills per set since Taylor Louis finished eighth in 2018.

Freshman Audrey Black and sophomore Kyndra Hansen round out Iowa’s group of outside hitters that have gotten regular playing time this season.

Hansen was supposed to start alongside Buzzerio this season but has missed all but three games because of an undisclosed injury. The 6-foot-2 pin hitter has taken part in drills and returned to the sidelines during the Nebraska series, but with only two games left in the season it is not likely that she will play again during her sophomore campaign.

On the other hand, Black has had an up and down year for the Hawkeyes as their third option on the outside. The freshman has played in every game this season and has tallied double digit kills five times so far.

Brown described Black as a player with a heavy arm, but she still has a lot of growth ahead of her to be a competitive player in the best conference in volleyball, as she is blocked as much as any other player on the team and is sporting only a .065 attacking percentage this season.

“Especially with Audrey being a freshman and just learning the ropes of Big Ten play,” Buzzerio said. “I think there’s a couple of rotations where we are right next to each other, and we kind of lock eyes and we’re like ‘we’re good, we’re going to get it, you’re going to be fine.’”

While Iowa’s middle blockers have been the most reliable unit for the team’s offense this season, this young group of outside hitters for Iowa could pan out and lead this program in the future.