Iowa volleyball senior setter Lily Tessier balances focus and fun

The senior from Florida State is one of seven transfers brought in by head coach Jim Barnes this season.


Isabella Cervantes

Iowa setter Lilly Tessier celebrates during a volleyball game between Iowa and North Florida at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Ospreys 3-0.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Senior setter Lily Tessier brings the perfect balance between fun and focus to Iowa volleyball.

Whether she’s setting specific goals for herself during practice to stay motivated or exploring the outdoors with her friends off the court, Tessier tries to make the best of each day, middle hitter Amiya Jones said.

“I think she brings a really spunky personality to the team,” Jones said. “She brings a lot of energy. She’s so versatile, and she’s always willing to listen. So, it’s just so nice to have someone who’s willing to work with you through all the things you’re going through.”

The 6-foot-3 Fort Myers, Florida, native was a four-year starter at Evangelical Christian High School. In 336 career sets with the Eagles, Tessier recorded 185 aces, 600 digs, 376 kills, and 2,282 assists.

Tessier committed to Florida State while still in high school. In her career with the Seminoles, she notched 7.25 assists per set, good for 11th in program history, while her 1,711 assists were good for 14th. Last year Tessier became the first Seminole setter since 2008 to reach 1,000 assists in her junior season.

Despite her distinguished career at Florida State, Tessier felt it was time to explore a different conference and part of the country because “if you’re not changing, you’re not growing.”

When Tessier entered the transfer portal, she never thought she would end up in the brisk Midwest with the Hawkeyes. But after a single phone call with Iowa assistant coach Aubrey Becker — who she met at a few high school camps when Becker was the Seminoles’ director of operations in 2016-17 — she was all in.

Tessier joined six other transfers brought in by first-year Hawkeye head coach Jim Barnes in hopes to rebuild the program, as Iowa has not had a winning conference record in over two decades.

Tessier made an immediate impact for the Hawkeyes, starting 26 of 27 matches. She leads Iowa with 6.91 assists per set and is third on the team with 192 total digs.

“We’re grateful that we have Lily with us and that she took a chance to come up here and help us turn this program around,” Barnes said. “She’s worked extremely hard, and even through the close games and close losses, she’s working hard to get this program where it needs to be.”

While Iowa is tied for last in the Big Ten with a 2-14 conference record, Tessier feels the Hawkeyes are playing with more trust and comfort, and she’s proud of her teammates for caring about more than just wins and losses.

With four conference games remaining, Iowa wants to tack a few more wins onto its belt — but the goal is to continue building camaraderie.

“One of my favorite things about coming to Iowa is the people that I’ve met here,” Tessier said.  “I feel like I’ve formed really strong bonds and relationships with my teammates and there’s just a really good group of girls here.”