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Despite loss, Iowa volleyball satisfied

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | AUGUST 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Freshmen Emily Yanny and Alex Lovell had waited to play their first game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for more than two years since they committed to the Iowa volleyball team.

They got their chance on Aug. 24, when the Black and Gold took the floor in the Hawkeye Challenge in the season-opener.

Iowa defeated Central Michigan, 3-2, on Aug. 24 ,but fell to St. Louis, 3-2, and Marquette, 3-1, on Aug. 25. The Hawkeyes walked away from the tournament with a 1-2 record.

Lovell tallied 23 kills in three games. She hit a team-leading 14 kills against Central Michigan, including the match-winning kill to defeat the Chippewas.

Yanny gathered 19 kills over the weekend.

Despite the early success from the Hawkeyes’ newest outside hitters, the rookies have big expectations to fill. Head coach Sharon Dingman said she was “very pleased” with their performance, but also said she needs to see improvement.

“Alex did some really nice things, and there’s a lot [she] has to learn,” Dingman said. “She did some really good things for us — obviously, getting that match-point kill. I said to [assistant coach Ben Boldt], ‘Well, Alex is going to eventually develop into our go-to player — let’s see if she has it now.’ ”

However, Lovell and Yanny did make some “freshman mistakes,” but they were ones that can be easily fixed.

“They like to bang a lot,” sophomore setter Nikki Dailey said. “They don’t really like to test out the other side’s defense with tipping shots; they just like to hit it hard. In high school, you can get away with that — just bang, bang, bang — but in college, you have to work on your shots. But … when they had one-on-one, it was a kill every time.”

The freshmen also had to tackle their nerves, which they seemed to accomplish with the support of their teammates.

“Obviously, there was a lot of pressure, and it was kind of intimidating, but I feel like I put myself in a position to make more plays [against Marquette] than I did earlier,” Yanny said. “I definitely know what I need to work on now. I will keep working on those things in practice and pounding that into my head so that when I am in a stressful situation during a game, it will just come naturally.”

Overall, the Hawkeyes said they are pleased with how much the freshmen improved over the weekend. The team witnessed its youngest members make drastic changes in confidence and skill over the three games.

“We got better with every match,” Dingman said. “[Against Central Michigan] — boy, that was just as ugly as a volleyball match as one could possibly watch. Then [against St. Louis], we saw glimpses of what we think this team can be.”


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