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Volleyball senior faces dad’s team

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | SEPTEMBER 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa volleyball outside hitter Megan Eskew wants to kill Chicago State in the opening game of the Iowa Invitational this weekend.  

Her father, Bob Eskew, is the Cougars’ head coach.

Iowa (3-3) will face Chicago State at 7 p.m. today in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and it will take on Loyola-Chicago at noon and Oakland (Mich.) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Despite a three-game weekend ahead of them, the Hawkeyes say they are energized and looking forward to the family battle.

Megan Eskew has known about Chicago State’s visit since the spring, when head coach Sharon Dingman asked her permission to invite the team to Iowa City.

At first, the idea fueled playful jokes from the team — if Eskew scores, will her father cheer for her or not? But now, on game day, the team said it realizes the uniqueness of the situation calls for a few changes.

“I honestly don’t think knowing Megan’s dad is the coach will change the way we perform, but rather the way we cheer and how we react to points won,” senior blocker Mallory Husz said.

Bob Eskew is in his second season with the Cougars, but Iowa has challenged Chicago State on two other occasions. In 2004 and 2006, the Hawkeyes defeated the Cougars in only three sets each game. Iowa currently holds a 2-0 record against the team from the Windy City.

Chicago State is 1-7 this season, and Bob Eskew is 1-40 for his career entering the tournament, but the benefits of inviting Chicago State to participate in the invitational tournament go far beyond the competition.

“Megan’s dad is a college coach, so it’s hard it is for him to see his daughter play [very often],” Dingman said. “It gives him a chance to watch her a couple times, but also it’s just a good opportunity. How many moms or dads get to play against their daughter’s college team?”

Bob Eskew played an influential role in his daughter’s volleyball career. For 22 years, he served as the head volleyball coach at Bloom Township High in Chicago Heights, Ill., and his daughter frequently tagged along to practices and participated in the training.

“My dad got me into the gym in the first place,” Megan Eskew said. “And then, he pushed me really hard. He always told me that I didn’t work hard enough — but then [Dingman] tells me I’m the hardest worker she’s ever had, so I think he really pushed to make me be a better volleyball player.”

Megan Eskew is a usually “intense, serious player” and a “go-getter girl,” said Husz. Eskew agreed and said she doesn’t think her dad’s rare presence at the game will affect her performance, even though he’ll be the opponent on the other side of the net.

“I’m approaching it like a normal game,” Megan Eskew said. “Afterwards, I’ll look to talk to my dad, but during game time, it’s just going to be the same me — the same intensity, the same work-now, play-later [mentality].”


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