VanderWeide, Onabanjo stepping up for Iowa volleyball

Freshmen Addie VanderWeide and Toyosi Onabanjo have made their presence felt early in their Hawkeye careers.


Larry Phan

Outside hitter Addie VanderWeide, middle blocker Hannah Clayton and setter Bailey Ortega gets ready for a high ball near the net at the Xtreme Arena on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Syracuse goes on to defeat Iowa 3-1.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Not much has gone right for Iowa volleyball this season. The Hawkeyes lost six straight games to kick off the 2021 season, and their win-loss record is 2-8.

Iowa currently sits in last place in the Big Ten Conference standings, trailing the likes of 5-6 Northwestern and 6-6 Indiana.

Three undefeated teams sit atop the league: 12-0 Maryland, 9-0 Ohio State, and 8-0 Wisconsin. Purdue trails the pack of leaders at 8-1 overall. Maryland and Wisconsin will collide this Friday at Xfinity Center Pavilion in College Park, Maryland.

Despite their struggles, however, the Hawkeyes have looked good at times this season, sweeping both Incarnate Word and Iowa State.

In addition to those wins, two of Iowa’s freshmen have had solid 2021 campaigns: Middle blocker Toyosi Onabanjo and outside hitter Addie VanderWeide.

Since VanderWeide joined Iowa’s starting lineup against Washington Sept. 4, Iowa’s hitting percentage has risen steadily. Iowa registered a season-low .061 hitting percentage against Coastal Carolina on Aug. 28. The Hawkeyes recorded their season-high .286 attacking percentage against Iowa State at Xtream Arena in Iowa City on Sept. 11.

VanderWeide has produced double-digit kill totals in all but one of her appearances in the Black and Gold this season.

“I think there is pressure, in a way, about contributing on the floor every match, but I am confident that my teammates have my back and support me,” VanderWeide said.

Before she joined the Hawkeye volleyball team, VanderWeide was a three-time state volleyball champion at Grand Rapids Christian High School in Michigan. In 2020, VanderWeide was a third-team All-American and a Michigan Gatorade Player of Year candidate.

Onabanjo made her Hawkeye debut in Iowa’s 3-1 loss to Syracuse Sept. 9. She finished the match with five kills, three assists, and a .556 attacking percentage.

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Onabanjo only appeared again in Iowa’s 3-2 loss to Ball State on Sept. 10. She recorded three kills and one assist on the game.

Onabanjo is from Houston, Texas. She went to high school at St. Agnes Academy, which she led to a state championship, and was a first team All-State selection in 2019.

“My two biggest goals for this season are to be a supportive team member and step up whenever I am needed on the floor,” Onabanjo told The Daily Iowan on Sept. 14.

VanderWeide and Onabanjo will get their first chance to play against a Big Ten opponent this week, as the Hawkeyes take on Illinois at Xtream Arena Sept. 22.

The Hawkeyes’ game against the Fighting Illini will kick off Iowa’s Big Ten Conference schedule. Iowa will take on No. 6 Nebraska at the Devaney Center in Lincoln this Saturday.

Iowa’s regular-season schedule is set to conclude with a matchup against Penn State Nov. 27.

The NCAA Division I Volleyball Championships Selection Show will be televised on ESPNU on Nov. 28.

The 2021 NCAA Volleyball Championships will begin on Dec. 2. This year’s Final Four will be held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The 2021 NCAA Volleyball Championship Game will be played on Dec. 18.