Iowa volleyball set for Mile High Invitational

The Hawkeyes will face off against Incarnate Word, Air Force, and Denver this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Larry Phan

Right side Courtney Buzzerio goes for a kill against two Ball State blockers during the volleyball match between Iowa and Ball State on Friday, Sept 10, 2021. The Cardinals defeated the Hawkeyes 3-2.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

After six-straight losses to begin the fall 2021 season, Iowa volleyball picked up its first win against Iowa State last weekend in the annual Cy-Hawk Series Tournament.

The Hawkeyes swept the Cyclones as senior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio led the charge, notching 15 kills in three sets. Buzzerio has recorded double-digit kills in every match this season as the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 option on offense.

“My mindset stays pretty consistent going into every match,” Buzzerio said. “I do everything I can to help my team succeed in every match I play in. I also try to stay level-headed going into every match to help my team find success.”

Senior middle Amiya Jones was a bright spot for the Hawkeyes in their victory over Iowa State, posting a team-high hitting percentage of .636. Jones is one of Iowa’s most consistent hitters, ranking second all-time in program history with a .292 hitting percentage

Freshman outside hitter Addie VanderWeide has also made an early impact for the Hawkeyes. Since making her starting debut against No. 20 Washington, VanderWeide is tied for second on the Hawkeyes with 49 kills and has recorded double-digit kills in each match.

Sophomore setter Bailey Ortega also tallied 26 assists in the Hawkeyes victory over the Cyclones. In her first season as Iowa’s lone setter in a 5-1 rotation, Ortega has amassed 264 assists through seven games.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball defeats Iowa State for first win of the season

Iowa will travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado, this weekend to play in the Mile High Invitational. The Hawkeyes open the tournament with a doubleheader Friday against Incarnate Word at noon and Air Force at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, Iowa will finish the tournament against Denver at 7:00 p.m.

“Our next three opponents are similar to teams we have faced in that we have seen so far this season,” head coach Vicki Brown said. “Air Force, Incarnate Word, and Denver are scrappy defensive teams that put pressure on their opponents. We must expect long rallies and be prepared for the unexpected.”

Iowa has struggled against strong defensive teams this season, going 0-5 in games that opponents recorded more digs than the Hawkeyes. When the Hawkeyes’ opponent has more blocks, Iowa was also winless through five eligible matches.

Iowa also has problems with endurance through matches, as it has been 0-2 in four-set games and 0-3 in five-set games.

Incarnate Word will come into the weekend with a 5-4 record, led by outside hitter Bethany Clapp. The senior leads the Cardinals with 229 kills, 17 service aces, and 156 digs.

Similar to the Hawkeyes, the 1-7 Air Force Falcons won its first match of the season this past weekend against Cal State Fullerton. Denver boasts a 7-1 record, led by graduate student Lydia Bartalo, who leads the squad with 81 kills.

This weekend is Iowa’s final nonconference tournament of the season, before the Hawkeyes kick off Big Ten play against Illinois at Xtream Arena in Coralville Sept. 22.

All matches this weekend can be found on the Mountain West Network.