Iowa volleyball enters season with one senior

BY CARLOS SOSA | AUGUST 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Five freshmen.

Six sophomores.

Five juniors.

One senior.

That’s the Iowa volleyball team’s roster heading into its season-opener, the Hawkeye Challenge this weekend.

Defensive stopper Allison Straumann is the eldest player on the team, and she has been through many ups and downs in her career at Iowa.

“It’s been such a whirlwind,” she said. “I’ve grown a ton coming off of my freshman year. I’ve matured on and off the court. I’ve learned so much of the game through these coaches, and each year I feel I’ve added a new element to my game.”

Being the lone senior Hawkeye on the team comes with baggage. Straumann has endured many difficult seasons while at Iowa — the Hawkeyes have never had a winning record while she’s been on the roster. But through the teams struggles she has learned what it takes to be a successful Division I athlete.

“Not only did she help me from day one in transitioning to college, but she is a great student,” sophomore defensive stopper Kari Mueller said. “She has really taught me a lot about volleyball and the whole college experience.”

There are 11 underclassmen on the team, so Straumann has been looked upon to help her teammates transition not only off the court but on it as well.

Frustrations arise when players aren’t having their best practice or game, but Straumann has taken the leadership role and has helped her younger teammates rebound.

“It’s really important to stay positive throughout everything. There’s going to be ups and downs,” Straumann said. “It’s a long season and it’s taxing with school and volleyball — physically and mentally. If I can show [my teammates] that it’s possible to enjoy every second of this and to show that on the court every Friday and Saturday night, I think that’s one of the best lessons I could give anybody.”

Straumann and company enter this season with a new approach after a difficult 2011 campaign. The Hawkeyes are young but have the pieces in place to improve their record from 2011’s 11-22. How they perform throughout the year will rely on the effort they put in into becoming successful. Straumann will be key in maximizing her younger teammates efforts on the court.

“The No. 1 thing about Allison is her effort,” freshman setter Anne Yanda said. “She is always giving 100 percent, diving for a ball and making sure people our doing the right thing. She makes you want to become a better player based on the way she plays.”

Straumann has been a prime example of what a player going into her final year should do. She is focused on leaving her mark with her teammates and on the Iowa volleyball program as a whole. With her having only one season left, Straumann’s peers hope to soak in as much as possible.

“She knows that it’s her senior year and time to go; she wants everybody else to be on the same page as her,” Yanda said. “She has the urgency that some of us coming in don’t have. I feel that she has brought all of us up to her level.”

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