Iowa volleyball set for back-to-back road games in Michigan

Iowa will take on Michigan State Friday and Michigan Saturday.


Ryan Adams

Iowa Volleyball Head Coach Vicki Brown waits for the third set of the match between the University of Iowa and Ohio State University at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Friday, November 29, 2019. The Buckeyes defeated the Hawkeyes 3-1.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball has already been swept by both Michigan State and Michigan this season. The Hawkeyes played both Great Lakes State teams back-to-back Oct. 1-2.

Now, Iowa will travel north to take the Spartans and Wolverines in Michigan Friday and Saturday.

In the Hawkeyes’ first meeting with Michigan State, Spartan sophomore Sarah Franklin racked up 20 kills. Franklin has registered 255 total kills this season.

The majority of Franklin’s attacks were set up by setter Celia Cullen, who amassed 37 assists in the Spartans’ Oct. 1 matchup with the Hawkeyes.

Much like the Spartans, the Wolverines relied on their setter against the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Scottee Johnson accumulated 34 assists and seven digs.

In both matches Iowa struggled from the service line. The Hawkeyes only managed seven combined service aces against Michigan and Michigan State.

Since their difficult outings against the Spartans and Wolverines, the Hawkeyes have put an emphasis on service aces. In its most recent match against Northwestern, Iowa finished with 10 service aces — five of which were recorded by senior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio.

“The pass-serve game is key in helping us find success this weekend,” Iowa head coach Vicki Brown said at a Hawkeye volleyball media availability session Tuesday. “I thought we did a good job from that spot against Northwestern. So, carrying that over on the road this week, will bring balance to our pass-serve game. It will help us put pressure on our opponents.”

The Hawkeyes will head to East Lansing for their matchup with the Spartans Friday night at 6 p.m. Iowa will then move on to Ann Arbor to square off against Michigan at 6 p.m.

Michigan State is 9-10 overall this season. The Spartans conference record is currently 2-8.

Michigan boasts 12-7 overall and 5-5 conference records. The Wolverines’ offensive is led by sophomore outside hitter Jess Mruzik, who’s recorded 240 kills this season.

The last time the Hawkeyes played the Spartans and Wolverines, Iowa didn’t get solid performances out of Buzzerio, its best player.

The Californian finished both the Hawkeyes’ home matches against the Big Ten Conference’s two Michigan schools with fewer than 10 kills. Buzzerio put the ball away six times against Michigan and on nine occasions versus Michigan State.

Since the Hawkeyes last played the Spartans and Wolverines, Buzzerio has found her rhythm. She’s finished Iowa’s last three games with 13, 11, and 14 kills. During that three-game stretch, Iowa played Illinois, No. 6 Nebraska, and Northwestern.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball falls to Northwestern

Iowa’s match against Michigan State Friday will be played at Jenison Fieldhouse. Saturday’s Iowa-Michigan game will be held at Cliff Keen Arena. Both the Hawkeyes’ games in Michigan will stream live on BTN+.

A win in Michigan this weekend would represent Iowa’s first against a conference opponent this season.

The Hawkeyes are currently 0-10 in Big Ten play and 2-18 overall. Only 10 league games remain on Iowa’s schedule, counting this weekend’s matchups against Michigan State and Michigan.