Yeager leads Iowa volleyball into Marquette tournament


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Iowa junior Bethany Yeager, the starting libero for the women’s volleyball team, is quickly climbing up the Iowa all-time digs list. But even with her impressive statistics — Yeager had 989 digs in her first two years — she has maintained her focus on two things: her team and winning.

Yeager is a gym rat. She’s the first one at practice, usually fielding extra serves from either her assistant coaches or players, and she is continually works to help her team win matches.

“I like to get in the gym early because it gets me focused and ready for practice,” the Brenham, Texas, native said. “I know that the more reps that I get, the better I’ll be. If I can get in there and get those extra reps, I know that it’ll help me and my team.”

Yeager is currently eighth in digs in Hawkeye history with 1,199 in her career. With the bulk of the season still remaining, she could possibly finish the season near the Iowa all-time digs of 1,931, held by Janet Moylan. None of those digs will matter, however, if the Hawkeyes suffer from another season as the one they endured last year.

“It’s tough to go through seasons where we seem to struggle or not win like we want to,” Yeager said. “We have to keep the goal in mind that we are trying to change a program. We have to motivate ourselves and come to [practice] every day to get better.”

During Yeager’s first two years with Iowa, the Hawkeyes won a combined 18 matches. All those losses take a toll, but what separates Yeager is her continued dedication to her team.

“Who doesn’t want to be No. 1? You work really hard, and records are great to have,” head coach Sharon Dingman said. “But that’s not what motivates Bethany every day. What motivates her is our team winning. That’s her motivation, for our team to win.”

At libero, Yeager doesn’t make the most glamorous plays. All of her effort goes toward preventing the other team from scoring, and she’ll risk her body for any play that’ll help the Hawkeyes keep the ball alive.

“I’ve known her since I was 13, and we’ve played against each other in club [matches] before,” junior Rachael Bedell said. “She is one of the hardest workers I know. It’s nice having her on the court because she is confident she’ll be able to get to any ball. She’ll be the first one on the floor and the first to bleed. [The team] feeds off her aggressiveness.”

When the Hawkeyes travel to Marquette this weekend for their final nonconference tournament, they’ll need Yeager’s aggressive play to lead them.

In each of the Hawkeyes’ first three tournaments, they have dropped a match that they could’ve had. Currently 7-3, Iowa wants to build on its good start, but the Hawks will need everyone performing as they have thus far. Including their often-digging libero.

“Her position is team above self, and Bethany epitomizes that,” Dingman said. “She has great work ethic and is a captain. She has to put others’ needs ahead of herself, and Bethany is good at that. But the No. 1 thing she wants is for the team to win.”

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