Iowa volleyball’s Amiya Jones gives veteran stability amid coaching changes

In her fifth season as a Hawkeye, the captain is determined to bring the 2022 squad to new heights.


Isabella Cervantes

Iowa middle hitter Amiya Jones celebrates during an Iowa women’s volleyball media conference and scrimmage at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. Jones played 98 matches in 2021.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Fifth-year senior Amiya Jones has battled through adversity in her time on the Iowa volleyball team.

Since she arrived in 2018, she’s gone through multiple coaching changes, an injury, and a global pandemic. But nothing has phased the 6-foot-2 middle hitter.

Jones helped maintain stability in a locker room that hasn’t had a winning season since 2015-16. While many athletes would shy away from struggling programs with multiple coaching changes, Jones has used it to her advantage.

“The continuous coaching changes have made me stronger as an individual,” Jones said. “I feel that I’ve become more adaptable to different leadership styles… and showed people how to persevere through obstacles and be flexible.”

Jones and the rest of the Hawkeyes are aware of the work they need to do to get back in the Big Ten Conference and national conversation, but they’re prepared to make the effort.

While Iowa’s nine newcomers have not only had to adapt to the new program, both transfers and returners needed to perfect the new offense from head coach Jim Barnes.

“We have all been trying to learn a new playing style, but besides that, everybody has been doing a great job in practice,” Jones said. “No one’s going to let the ball hit the floor.”

Jones added that newcomers Nia Washington, Lily Tessier, Amanda Darling, and Michelle Urquhart have helped keep practice competitive, and she expects them to make an immediate impact on the court this season.

Barnes also emphasized his players’ grit and work throughout fall camp.

“This team is as driven as any team I’ve put together to get it right,” Barnes said. “We want to be in the top half [of the Big Ten]. Some people talk about that happening in two, three years. No…that’s this year’s goal.”

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Jones, one of four team captains, feels that the 2022 season could be the year Iowa has a winning season — but her personal and team goals remain the same.

“I want to be a dominant player on the court,” said Jones. “I want teams to fear me and fear our team. I want them to recognize us as a threat in the Big Ten.”

Jones said she feels lucky to compete in such a tough conference and environment every week. The Big Ten is a premier conference for volleyball, with two conference teams making it to the 2021 NCAA Volleyball Championship Game. Wisconsin was crowned the national champion, while Nebraska was runner-up.

While Jones, who hails from Indianapolis, says she holds some extra hostility against her home state teams Indiana and Purdue, she’s grateful for the relationships she’s formed across the league, especially with Rainelle Jones from Maryland.

Barnes has reworked programs such as Wyoming, Baylor, and Tulane, but he said his journey with Iowa is going to be a process that requires many working parts. He added that there are surprises in Hawkeye practices every day, but Jones’ fiery determination is one thing the team has always been able to count on.

“[Amiya’s] driven,” Barnes said. “Great personality. And that’s how she is every day. She’s consistently a great leader for this team. She’s going to get more kills than she ever has in her life.”

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