Iowa volleyball gets swept in final series of the season

No. 3 Minnesota beat Iowa in straight sets Friday and Saturday with an overpowering offense and a strong defensive scheme.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa players huddle up before 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

It was an unfortunate ending to the 2021 spring season for the Iowa volleyball team in Minneapolis.  

Iowa lost both matches in straight sets to No. 3 Minnesota, proving why the Golden Gophers are one of the top programs in the country. 

The Golden Gophers put on an offensive clinic in both matches, and they completely dominated Iowa Saturday. 

Minnesota notched an incredible .371 hitting percentage, and its immense pressure led Iowa to have 27 total errors compared to Minnesota’s 20. 

Second-team All-American Stephanie Samedy and freshman setter Melanie Shaffmaster both had quite the weekend for the Golden Gophers. 

Samedy slated game-highs in kills for both matches with a weekend total of 27 and managed to keep her hitting percentage above the .365 mark all weekend. Shaffmaster tallied an outstanding 35 assists Friday and then managed to outdo that with 38 assists Saturday. 

With first-team All-Big Ten libero CC McGraw out due to a knee injury, Minnesota turned to sophomore Rachel Kilkelly to anchor their back row. 

Kilkelly tallied 14 digs on the weekend and put the depth of this Minnesota team on full display with the spot start at libero. 

Iowa didn’t have a single player breach the double-digit kill mark in either match. 

RELATED: Iowa volleyball travels to Minneapolis for final series of the season

Sophomore outside hitter Edina Schmidt led the team in kills, with six Saturday for the fourth time in the last five games, and junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton continued her efficient offense with a .440 hitting percentage across both matches. 

Down 8-6 in the first set of Saturday’s match, Minnesota came back with two separate 3-0 runs that carried the Golden Gophers to a 25-18 first set win. 

The second set was not pretty, as Minnesota went on a 12-1 run fed by three kills from junior outside hitter Adanna Rollins and multiple attacking errors from the Hawkeyes. 

After the 25-14 second set win for Minnesota, it felt likely that Iowa was looking at its last set of the season. The chemistry between Samedy and Shaffmaster was clear as day with Samedy’s five kills in the third set sealing the match for Minnesota, 25-16. 

Friday’s match was a similar story, as the Golden Gophers had four players with double-digit kills.

Minnesota went on a 7-0 run right out of the gate on Friday and led by as much as 10 in the set. Rollins and Samedy each tallied five kills in that set alone.

The Hawkeyes managed to fend off four set points and battle back to get within two before Rollins added another kill to win the set, 25-22. 

That would be the closest the Hawkeyes would get to winning a set all weekend as an 8-1 run for Minnesota in the second set was too much for Iowa to overcome, and it dropped a tough second set, 25-11.

“Minnesota presented challenges in their serving,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said in a release Friday. “We got a little bit rattled at the beginning. We found our rhythm but then lost it in the second set.”

Iowa came out with heart in the third set taking a 7-3 lead out of the gate. The overpowering Minnesota offense was just too much in this one, though, as the Hawkeyes didn’t stop their opponent from tying it up at eleven and lost the set, 25-19. 

“Maddie Slagle, Joslyn Boyer, and Edina Schmidt are fighters,” Brown said. “They were able to pull it back and get us more into rhythm going into the third set.”

The Hawkeyes will start their next season in the fall of 2021.

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