Iowa freshman setter Yanda apprentices under Dailey


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Last year, then-sophomore Nikki Dailey was the lone setter on the Iowa volleyball team, and she was asked to play setter in every practice and every game. She started all 33 matches and was ninth in the Big Ten in assists, recording 1,152.

This year, however, she has company and someone to help navigate the offense in freshman setter Anne Yanda.

“Anne has a very high volleyball IQ,” assistant coach Ben Boldt said. “What she needs to improve on his her first-step quickness. She’s got to be able to get there and deliver the ball to her hitters.”

Yanda has played sparingly in the Hawkeyes first seven games but has been able to give Dailey breathers when needed. Over this past weekend, in the Golden Grizzly Invitational, she played in two games and adequately relieved Dailey. Yanda recorded 17 assists in her two games.

Stats aren’t the measure for Yanda in her first year, however. She will be expected to learn the intricacies of not only the Iowa offense but also the grueling competition of the Big Ten.

“It’s hard when you’re running a 6-2 to get into your groove right away because you’re constantly going in and out,” Yanda said about the style of offense Iowa employs. “I love being able to come on the floor and making an impact right away.”

In her first tournament for Iowa, she displayed how the two setters could benefit the team over the next two years. She played in three games during the opening weekend in addition to her minutes last weekend, recording 24 assists while only playing in six sets.

“We expect everything out of Anne that we do of Nikki,” Boldt said. “We need someone who is going to deliver a consistent ball to our hitters. Our offense has to run at a high efficiency. That should be their goal for our offense.”

One way both players will be able to efficiently run the Hawkeye offense is by watching the other compete from the sideline. Yanda will compete this year primarily as Dailey’s backup, but both will benefit from time on the bench.

“Now, I feel if I’m playing, it’s because I’ve earned it, not because it’s handed to me,” Dailey said. “And if she is playing, it’s because she earned it, and it challenges me to work harder. I think that creates a healthy balance with who is going to play and who is going to do the learning.”

Dailey is one of the most competitive players on the team. Her drive, however, has been resurrected from last season with the presence of Yanda in practice because she has someone to compete against.

 “Last year, I didn’t have competition [in practice] until halfway through the season,” Dailey said. “Having her here is refreshing because we can talk strategy. She understands the stresses of the setter position. I feel like we’re a team because we’re both setters.”

Yanda is still getting acclimated to the college game, but she has gotten over the freshman jitters. With two tournaments under her belt, Yanda has just six games remaining before Big Ten play.

The Hawkeyes’ conference is arguably the best in the nation, with six teams currently in the top 25. She will need to continue learning from her more experienced teammate to prepare for the powerhouse league.

“[Nikki] is so good at so many things that I need to work on,” Yanda said. “Every rep she has, she makes sure that it’s a hittable ball. Being able to sit out and just watch her is interesting to see how she talks with her team.”

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