Iowa volleyball’s Delaney McSweeney moves closer to home

The middle hitter transferred from Wake Forest to Iowa — her home state — ahead of her junior season.

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Isabella Cervantes

Iowa middle hitter Delaney McSweeney blocks the ball from middle hitter Amiya Jones during an Iowa women’s volleyball media conference and scrimmage at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter


Iowa volleyball middle hitter Delaney McSweeney returned to her home roots for her junior season. The Center Point, Iowa, native grew up in a Hawkeye household, but she felt her best fit out of high school was Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The road to Division I volleyball was not guaranteed for McSweeney, as she didn’t dress for the varsity team in her first two years at Center Point-Urbana High School.

But she had a breakout senior year, leading the 2018 team with 82 blocks. She earned first-team all-conference in her senior season and was named a top-50 volleyball player by the *Des Moines Register.*

McSweeney said she originally chose to go to the Demon Deacons because of the personal effort Wake Forest coaches made to reach out to her and see her play. As a sophomore in 2021, McSweeney started all 29 matches and led the Demon Deacons with 34 solo blocks and 104 total.

But after the 2021 season, McSweeney felt it was time for a change. Ultimately, McSweeney wanted to be closer to home. McSweeney is just 45 minutes from home by living in Iowa City.

“I had a great time, but at the end of the day I wanted to be closer to home,” McSweeney said of Wake Forest. “There was just some stuff that wasn’t working out there for me personally. I decided that the best fit for me, and the best coaches and people that I found, were at Iowa. And that just happened to be closer to home, which was an added bonus.”

RELATED: How Michelle Urquhart went from Tulane to Iowa volleyball

McSweeney is one of seven transfers that was brought in for the 2022 season by first-year head coach Jim Barnes. The whole team first got together in June, and their relationship as teammates and friends have only grown.

“The support that I’ve had, and the other transfers have had, has been overwhelmingly positive,” McSweeney said. “I don’t think any of us have even had a little negative bump yet. We count losses as negative, but as far as meshing with the team goes, it’s all been uphill.”

Eight matches into the season, McSweeney averages 2.231 kills per set — forth on the Hawkeyes. At 6-foot-7, she leads the team with a .654 blocking efficiency.

Barnes is pleased with the way McSweeney has been settling into the offense and connecting with senior setter Lily Tessier — who transferred from Florida State.

“She’s played really well,” Barnes said. “She’s learning the offense, learning how fast she needs to be up. And when she is up she’s tough to stop at 6-foot-7. She can hit the ball before the block jumps. She’s starting to see better and connect better with Lily, our setter.”

McSweeney and Barnes are trying to turn around a program that went 6-24 in the 2021 season, and growing up as a Hawkeye gives McSweeney extra fire.

“She’s one of those players that has a chip on their shoulder to help get this program right,” Barnes said. “Not only for the program but for the state of Iowa and her family who lives here.”

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