Iowa volleyball defeats Northern Iowa, prepares for Big Ten play

The Hawkeyes swept the Panthers on Saturday, going undefeated at their home tournament.


Larry Phan

Northwestern outside hitter Hanna Lesiak and middle blocker Leilani Dodson block a spike from Iowa middle blocker Toyosi Onabanjo during a volleyball match at Xtream Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 3-0. (Larry Phan/The Daily Iowan)

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Iowa Volleyball closed out the Hawkeye Invitational at Xtream Arena on Saturday by sweeping the University of Northern Iowa.

In their first meeting since 2003, the Hawkeyes and Panthers came into the match undefeated at the Hawkeye Invitational —both squads defeated South Dakota State University and the University of North Florida on Friday. Through three matches this weekend, Iowa did not drop a set.

In the first set on Saturday, Iowa pulled away to win, 25-17. The Hawkeyes, who average 1.857 blocks per set, recorded four blocks and had a hitting efficiency of .462 with 14 kills. 

The second set started in favor of the Panthers as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But errors by UNI sparked the Iowa offense as the Hawkeyes took the lead, 15-8. UNI couldn’t keep up, and Iowa pulled away to win the second set, 25-16.

After the Hawkeyes got out to an 8-3 lead in the third set, the Panthers called a timeout. The Panthers came out of the timeout and battled back to take a slight lead, 17-16. But a kill from middle hitter Amiya Jones gave Iowa the push it needed. The Hawkeyes took the third set, 25-23.

Sophomore outside hitter Toyosi Onabanjo led the Hawkeyes with eight kills over 13 attempts, earning a kill efficiency of .615. Onabnajo said her newfound connection with setter Lily Tessier — who transferred from Florida State — has helped her efficiency. 

“I think me and Lily are really connecting well, like really well,” Onabanjo said. “It was pretty rough at first, because she’s new and I haven’t had much time with her, but I think we are really starting to get in the groove of things. So I honestly owe it to her, she’s awesome.”

Outside hitter Michelle Urquhart also had eight kills and seven digs. Hitters Delaney McSweeney, Addie Vanderwiede, Edina Schmidt, and Jones all had six kills and over .300 hitting efficiency through the match. Jones also tied her career high in service aces with seven.

Iowa has six wins through its nonconference slate — tying the 2021 Hawkeyes’ season victory total.

The Hawkeyes jumped from 2-8 in nonconference play under former head coach Vicki Brown in 2021 to 6-5 in 2022 under first-year Hawkeye head coach Jim Barnes.

The Hawkeyes will open up their Big Ten schedule at Xtream Arena on Friday against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The match is set for 6 p.m. and will be streamed on BTN+. 

No. 5 Ohio State will present a challenge for Iowa, but Barnes said the Hawkeyes are motivated.

“We have to play our very best,” said Barnes. “And some of the things we learned this weekend will give us some optimism and confidence going into it  … regardless of the score, the team is going to be working hard.”

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