Volleyball notebook | Iowa prepares for Hawkeye Invitational

After a 1-2 showing in Ames last weekend, Iowa is preparing to open up its home schedule.


Isabella Cervantes

Iowa middle hitter and libero Sydney Dennis celebrate with teammates after winning the scrimmage 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 went 1-2 last weekend at the Cardinal and Gold Challenge in Ames, Iowa, bringing their season record to 3-5.

On Sept. 9, the Hawkeyes took their lone victory of the weekend over Wright State in a five-set thriller before falling to rival Iowa State on its home court in the annual Cy-Hawk series. Iowa ended the weekend with a loss against Drake on Saturday afternoon.

How it happened

Iowa opened up the weekend versus the Rowdy Raiders out of the Horizon League. The match was back-and-forth every set, with the Hawkeyes taking sets one, three, and five to claim victory.

Iowa posted a season-high 70 kills with the help of four Hawkeyes who totaled double-digits. Senior middle hitter Amiya Jones had a career-high 17 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Toyosi Onabanjo, who returned after sustaining an ankle injury on Sept. 3, tied her career-best at 13 kills. Junior middle hitter Delaney McSweeney had season-high 12 kills.

Later on, Iowa took on Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum for the annual Cy-Hawk rivalry game. The match was tied, 1-1, before service errors by the Hawkeyes allowed the Cyclones to sneak back and win the third set. Iowa State took the match in four sets. Onabanjo led the team with 13 kills, followed by Jones with 10.

Iowa closed out the weekend against another in-state foe, Drake. Iowa won the second set of the match, but 29 unforced errors sealed their fate as the Bulldogs took the match. Senior libero Mari Hinkle registered a career-high 34 digs.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball notebook | Hawkeyes prepare for Cardinal and Gold Challenge

Urquhart named to All-Tournament team

Urquhart recorded two double-doubles on the weekend with 11 kills and 14 digs against Wright State, along with 14 kills and 15 digs versus Drake to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Urquhart also contributed nine kills and five digs against the Cyclones. Barnes said he has seen more consistency with Urquhart as the season has progressed, which is key for the Hawkeyes as she has been a reliable role player offensively and defensively.

“[Urquhart] is one of the most consistent players on our team, and she’s played in every set because of that,” Barnes said. “We can rely on her to do offense and defense…She’s getting better and better as we go, and we need that. We need players that can be consistent, low-error, and still be able to put the ball away.”

Room to improve: taking care of the ball

Barnes emphasized how Iowa can compete and beat anyone they face, but it all comes down to consistent, cleaner play by everyone.

“Usually, you win when you have more kills,” Barnes said. “But we also had way too many errors …Those are things you can control. The other team is just standing on the other side and doesn’t have to do anything when you hit it out. So, had we just taken care of the ball, we would’ve finished off all three. We have to learn quickly from that. You need to be aggressive in this game, but you cannot make that many errors.”

What’s next?

Iowa will host its first game of the season at Xtream Arena this weekend.

Iowa will open up the Hawkeye Invitational on Friday with a doubleheader against South Dakota State at 12:30 p.m. and North Florida at 7 p.m. The Hawkeyes will finish off the weekend on Saturday with a match against University of Northern Iowa at 2 p.m.

All matches will be streamed on BTN+

Hinkle, a Rosemount, Minnesota native, is especially looking forward to this weekend, as her family is traveling to Xtream Arena to watch her play.

“I’m really excited because my family is coming down,” Hinkle said. “It’s not that far of a drive for them. So it’ll be a lot of fun with them and the fans from Iowa City.”

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