The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa volleyball falls to No. 1 Nebraska, 3-0, in front of sold-out crowd

The Hawkeyes played one of their best games of the season in their final home game of the year on Sunday.
Sara Stumpff
Iowa outside hitter Nataly Moravec (1) attempts to spike the ball during a volleyball match between Iowa and Nebraska at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.

The Iowa volleyball team was swept by No. 1 Nebraska, 3-0, in the final home game of the season in front of a sold-out crowd at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Sunday. 

Hawkeye fifth-year outside hitter Caitlan Buettner led the team with nine kills, and first-year outside hitter Nataly Moravec followed up with eight kills while setters Bailey Ortega and Kaia Mateo combined for 27 assists. 

But the Hawkeyes found themselves in a 3-0 hole to start the first set after two failed attacks. After a couple of Nebraska mistakes, Iowa was hanging close, but the Cornhuskers’ relentless attacks gave the latter a sizable 11-7 lead early on. 

The Hawkeyes couldn’t find a consistent rhythm on offense due to the Cornhuskers’ stellar defense as well. Nonetheless, Iowa did just enough to keep in it, trailing 19-13 around the midway mark. 

The Hawkeyes’ beautiful team play on both sides of the net kept them within arms’ length, going on a 7-3 run to bring the set to 23-20, but this was not enough as the Cornhuskers closed out the set, 25-21. 

Iowa and Nebraska kicked off the second set scoring four points each. Both teams continued to trade points before the Cornhuskers scored three unanswered to put them ahead, 10-7.

Iowa turned defense into offense, scoring three straight kills off of Nebraska attacks to tie the set back up at 14 apiece. Two minute-long rallies ended in points for the Hawkeyes as they trailed late, 20-19 — but Nebraska’s dominance came alive as a 5-1 Cornhuskers run ended the set, 25-21. 

And Iowa came out aggressively to take a 6-2 lead over Nebraska to start the third set. The lead did not last long as an 8-4 Cornhuskers run knotted the set back up at 10 apiece. 

Iowa and Nebraska traded three points as back-to-back lengthy rallies ended with points at the net. The Cornhuskers responded with a 10-1 run that gave them a 20-14 lead late in the set. 

Nebraska continued to dominate as the Cornhuskers closed out the set, 25-15, completing the sweep. 

With Sunday’s victory, Nebraska clinched the women’s volleyball Big Ten title. 

Hawkeyes’ defensive improvement 

Although Iowa was swept, the team put together one of the best games they’ve played all season — especially on the defensive end.

“I’m proud of the way we played as a team,” Iowa head coach Jim Barnes said postgame. “We fought together for each other, and we didn’t give up. We were very good defensively. Nebraska had to earn all of their points… It’s what Hawkeyes do: They play great defense.”

Energetic environment 

It was the first and last time this season Iowa hosted a volleyball game in front of a sold-out crowd. Though there was a sea of red in the stands, the energy in the building was special. 

“I just knew I’d be so excited for this game,” Moravec said about playing in front of a sold-out Xtream Arena. “This is a huge opportunity because not all teams in the country can say that they played the number one team in the nation … Our whole team had this attitude where we’re going in and we’re putting up a fight.”

But in Barnes’ eyes, it will only be a matter of time before Iowa volleyball starts winning and has that kind of environment every single game.

“If you look at our record and judge us by that, then you’d be mistaken,” Barnes said. “There’s been a lot of groundwork for what we’re going to do over the next two or three years. Watch what this program does over the next couple of years.”

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About the Contributors
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.