Iowa Big Ten Volleyball Media Days Notebook: Hawkeyes optimistic about future

The Hawkeyes were12th in the Big Ten volleyball poll but believe they can succeed under new head coach Jim Barnes.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa’s new head volleyball coach Jim Barnes speaks during a press conference introducing Barnes as head coach at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. “We’re rebuilding this team and we’re gonna get this team working together. That’s my first goal.”

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

The Iowa volleyball team hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1994, but first-year Hawkeye head coach Jim Barnes sees the program as one that is ready to succeed.

“There’s so much that Iowa has to offer these players and incoming players that not many places can,” Barnes said. “Being in this conference and having the opportunity to work up into the biggest and best conference in the country is a big deal, and when you look at Iowa, the commitment, the people in the state love volleyball. They’re just yearning for it to be a great program.”

That’s what he told reporters at the Big Ten Volleyball Media Days on Tuesday morning. The first-of-its-kind  event for any collegiate conference took place Monday and Tuesday at Big Ten Network studios in Chicago. Each conference program sent its head coach and two-student athletes.

Iowa chose fifth-year senior Amiya Jones and sophomore Toyosi Onabanjo to represent its program. Though the Hawkeyes were picked 12th in the Big Ten preseason poll, Jones and Onabanjo said they believe Barnes will make Iowa successful.

“He walks into a room, and he just commands attention,” Jones said of Barnes. “He just makes us all feel like we can trust him and trust the path that he’s taking us on. Love, trust, communication, sacrifice, that’s the four pillars we stand on as a team, and I feel like you can feel that within the practice plan, you can feel it within everything we do as a team, so that’s how it was easy to buy into him.”

Onabanjo said not only does Barnes care about his team during practice, but also outside. When she was in what she described as a terrible accident, the outside hitter said Barnes was the first one to text her to make sure she was OK.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball planning to build on spring success in the summer

The Hawkeyes open the 2022 season against Gonzaga in the Oklahoma Invitational on Aug. 26 and commence Big Ten play on Sept. 23 versus Ohio State.

Big Ten expands media coverage

The Big Ten is emphasizing its volleyball media coverage for the 2022 season.

The Big Ten Network announced Monday it has agreed to a distribution partnership with Volleyball World. Per the agreement, 70+ Big Ten matches will appear on

BTN will provide subscribers with a livestream of almost 50 televised BTN matches outside of North America and certain Caribbean Islands and access to 28 BTN+ matches.

As for cable and satellite coverage, the Big Ten revealed Monday that a record-setting 55 volleyball contests will air nationally across BTN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and FS1.

Iowa will have at least four televised games in 2022. The Hawkeyes’ Sept. 25 showdown against Purdue will be broadcasted on ESPN2, while their Sept. 28 match at Indiana and Oct. 5 game at Purdue is scheduled for BTN. The Minnesota matchup in Coralville on Oct. 19 is set for ESPNU.

“You’re seeing young girls choose volleyball, their mothers bringing them to these volleyball tournaments, and their fathers on the sidelines really getting into this sport,” Barnes said. “It is something that’s growing dramatically quick and has a force that’s growing, and then you have the Big Ten Network and TV improvements that are happening and media day.

“I think you’re seeing something very special grow here,” Barnes added. “You’re seeing a growth spurt for this sport that’s about to really take off.”

Iowa volleyball discusses name, image, and likeness

Hawkeye student-athletes have been taking advantage of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) since the NCAA implemented an NIL policy in July 2021.

Though the most prominent participants of NIL have been football and basketball players, volleyball athletes want to become involved as well.

Onabanjo said it’s been easier to find NIL opportunities as people are reaching out to her about representing their companies.

But Jones offered a different perspective, saying NIL isn’t being utilized the way it should have been because only certain athletes will receive certain deals.

“For those of us who do really want to get into the market, I would just love more guidance,” Jones said. “Because I would love to represent so many different companies, especially with my stance on social justice and things like that. I would love for more companies to reach out to me,  ”

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