Hawkeye Trio to receive Homecoming at Oakland Tourney

BY CARLOS SOSA | AUGUST 31, 2012 6:30 AM

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When the Hawkeye volleyball team takes the court tonight against Eastern Illinois, a trio of players will receive a homecoming for the first time together. Sophomores Alex Lovell, Erin Leppek, and Alessandra Dietz will play in front of a home crowd this weekend at the Oakland Tournament in Rochester, Mich.

“All three of us feel the same way,” Lovell said. “We’re all so excited to spend time with our families and to play in front of them.”

Lovell and Leppek have been a part of the team since 2011. Lovell coincidentally had her career high in kills last year against Oakland when she totaled 21. Lovell came to Iowa City as a highly recruited hitter out of Marian High School. She helped lead Marian, along with Dietz, to back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.

“It’s exciting [to be reunited],” Dietz said. “Alex and I had a great run throughout our four years at Marian winning the state championship. It’s really great to be back with them, and I’m excited to see what we’re going do here at Iowa.”

Dietz is the newest of the trio to join the Hawkeyes. She spent last year playing for Loyola-Marymount in California. She had an up-and-down season and felt that a change of scenery would benefit her game.

“I was looking for a bigger school than Loyola-Marymount,” she said. “And I wanted to get back to the Midwest. I missed my family, and in talking to Alex she told me a bunch of great things about Iowa, and I was sold.”

Leppek, a club teammate of Lovell and Dietz, played at Rochester High, where she was named the team’s captain her junior and senior year. She, along with Lovell and Dietz, played for Michigan Elite Volleyball and created a bond that will hopefully last through their careers.

“We know each other’s tendencies,” Leppek said. “We’re better off challenging each other, especially with blocking and hitting.”

Leppek is seen as a versatile player. She appeared in 23 matches her freshman year and is looked at as a stabilizing force in the lineup.

Dietz is still adjusting to her new home, but she has much to offer. In the Hawkeye Challenge last week, she killed the ball 23 times over four games. Her best game came against Southeast Missouri, against which she tallied 12 kills.

Now that the trio is reunited in Black and Gold, all the focus will be on how they can translate the success they’ve had on the court in the past to this season and the future. The three of them won a USA Volleyball national championship in 2010.

“I think it’s the mentality [of winning] that can translate,” Lovell said. “The skills are different and the level of competition is obviously higher now. That mentality of winning and not letting other teams walk all over us. That’s what translates.”

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