Iowa volleyball set for two ranked matchups

The Hawkeyes will face No. 4 Wisconsin on Wednesday before No. 6 Purdue on Saturday.


Casey Stone

Iowa outside hitter Addie VanderWeide jumps to hit the ball over the net during a volleyball game between Iowa and Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Michigan defeated Iowa 3-0.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball hasn’t seen Wisconsin in a while.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Madison to face the No. 4 Badgers Wednesday night. Iowa hasn’t faced their Big Ten foe since 2019, when the Badgers swept the Hawkeyes.

Iowa was supposed to face the then-No. 1 Badgers in spring 2021 play, but the matches were canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the Wisconsin program.

Following the spring 2021 season, Hawkeye starting libero Joslyn Boyer transferred to Wisconsin. Boyer was the focal point of Iowa’s back row last spring, leading the Hawkeyes with 278 total digs — fifth in the Big Ten.

At Wisconsin this season, Boyer has started the 2021 campaign with 72 digs.

Senior libero Maddie Slagle and UCLA transfer Mari Hinkle have stepped up in the Hawkeye back row to fill the void left by Boyer.

“Within our conference, there is always a lot of talent, and we always try to make sure that our roster has the options to be successful,” head coach Vicki Brown said. “The addition of Mari Hinkle, emergence of Addie, and the return of Maddie Slagle have helped us sustain good passing lines, and maintain good stats.”

Slagle has amassed 176 digs so far in the fall 2021 season — eclipsing her total from spring.

Hinkle and VanderWeide have also contributed to the workload in the back row this season — Hinkle has tallied 127 digs on the season, and VanderWeide follows with 111.

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VanderWeide is also a force to be reckoned with on the offensive side. The freshman from Ada, Michigan, is second on the Hawkeyes with 110 kills.

The Badgers are 11-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten heading into the Wednesday night matchup. Wisconsin started the season ranked No. 2 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll, but a loss to Maryland bumped the Badgers down to No. 4.

The return of Wisconsin middle blocker Dana Rettke has been a huge factor in the Badgers’ success during the 2021 season. The four-time All-American led the Badgers with 3.13 kills per set last season, and has tallied 143 on the 2021 campaign.

“Wisconsin has returned a lot of key players for the season,” Brown said. “They are very experienced in terms of their setter position and obviously Dana Rettke adds on to that experience.”

The Hawkeyes will then face No. 6 Purdue this Saturday at Xtream Arena in Coralville.

The Boilermakers are 11-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference, suffering an upset by Illinois.

Purdue is led by All-American fifth-year senior outside hitter Caitlyn Newton, who paces the Boilermakers with 88 kills. Newton led the Big Ten last season in points, points per set, attacks per set, and total attacks.

“Purdue is veteran heavy,” Brown said. “They’re coming off a good run at the institute tournament last year and they thrive off veteran leadership to win matches.”

The Hawkeyes’ match against Wisconsin will start at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and air live on the Big Ten Network. Iowa will face Purdue on Saturday at 7 p.m., and the contest will be streamed on BTN+.