Iowa volleyball set to host Cy-Hawk Series Tournament this week

The Hawkeyes will welcome Ball State, Iowa State, and Syracuse to Xtream Arena in Coralville for the event.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa outside hitter, Courtney Buzzerio, prepares to spike the ball during the volleyball match between Iowa and Michigan State on Friday, March 26 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Spartans beat the Hawkeyes 3-1.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Following two road losses to No. 9 Washington and Colorado in the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge in Champaign, Illinois, last weekend, Iowa volleyball will return home for matchups with Syracuse, Ball State, and Iowa State at Xtream Arena in Coralville this week.

The Hawkeyes’ matchup with the Orange Thursday will mark the first time Xtream Arena welcomes fans to an Iowa volleyball game.

Last season, Hawkeye volleyball fans weren’t allowed to attend Iowa games at any venue, including Xtream Arena. The Big Ten Conference required all 14 of its member institutions to prohibit fan attendance at athletic events in 2020 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This weekend is really exciting because it is our first home game at Xtream [Arena] with fans,” senior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio said. “With it also being a rivalry weekend, it amps up the level of excitement for the weekend.”

Buzzerio and the Hawkeyes have yet to win a game in 2021, sitting at 0-4 on the year. Iowa opened its season with losses to both Duke and Coastal Carolina at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Conway, South Carolina, Aug. 28.

“We are very close,” Buzzerio said. “We just haven’t gotten over the hump. We played at a high level this past weekend against high-level opponents, and that gave us a huge boost of confidence heading into what will be an emotional rivalry weekend.”

Iowa’s matchups with Ball State, Syracuse, and Iowa State are all part of the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament — an event the Hawkeyes host annually.

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Iowa’s first matchup of the tournament Thursday may be its toughest. Syracuse will arrive in Coralville with a 6-0 record and the ACC’s kills-per-set leader Marina Markova. On the season, Markova has averaged 4.50 kills per set.

Ball State is also undefeated this season, sitting at 7-0. The Cardinals’ sophomore libero Kate Vinson was named MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 6. Vinson’s 5.58-digs-per-set performance at the Wright State Tournament helped her earn the honor.

Iowa State boasts the worst record of the three opponents Iowa will face this week at 4-1. In 2019, The Cyclones narrowly defeated the Hawkeyes in five sets.

All three teams Iowa will face this week boast hitting percentages greater than .227.

Given the offensive prowess of the three teams they’ll be playing in the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament, the Hawkeyes will have to defend at a high level if they are to pick up their first win of the season.

“Defense, and more specifically blocking, are definitely major factors heading into the weekend,” Hawkeye head coach Vicki Brown said. “If you can score and then slow down your opponent’s ability to have free range as to where they can get their points, then I think you’ll play more ahead versus trying to catch up.”

Action between the Hawkeyes, Cardinals, Orange, and Cyclones begins Thursday and concludes Saturday. All three of Iowa’s Cy-Hawk Series Tournament games will be streamed live on BTN+.