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Dailey more than a setter for Hawkeye volleyball

BY CARLOS SOSA | SEPTEMBER 21, 2012 6:30 AM

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Nikki Dailey has been on a hot streak as of late. In each of the Hawkeyes’ previous seven matches, spanning two tournaments, the junior setter and team captain has recorded a double-double.

Dailey has continued her success on the court by contributing on both sides of the ball. She’s the quarterback of the offense, assisting her hitters on almost every play, while also playing stout defense when the ball is hit her way. Before this year however, defense wasn’t her strong suit.

“I’ve been focusing on defense, making reads and tips. Other things than just setting [the ball] and running the offense,” the Franklin, Wis., native said. “When I play defense, and I get the first ball, our offense can still be run by Bethany [Yeager]. The women expect that now; I’m going to play defense as any [defensive specialist] would, even though I’m the setter.”

So far this season, Dailey is second on the team with 153 digs. On the offensive end, she leads the team in assists with 518, third in the Big Ten. She’s seventh in Hawkeye history with 1,976 career assists.

Dailey’s improvement on the defensive end has been a gradual process. Her newfound dedication to preventing opponents from scoring has helped take some pressure off of the rest of the defense.

“She has gotten a lot better at reading the ball and reading around the block,” said fellow junior and outside hitter Rachael Bedell. “The ball comes a lot harder and more straight down in the back row. [This] year she has been a lot better at reading where the ball is coming from and being more ready for the ball throughout the whole play.”

Dailey is one of two players, the other being libero and fellow captain Yeager, to have played in every set since the beginning of the 2011 season. This year, the duo has been looked upon to help the Hawkeyes stay aggressive in games in which they’re struggling to produce.

“She keeps us competitive in a lot of situations,” head coach Sharon Dingman said. “Because, one: She is a pure competitor. And two: Because of her position as setter, she is the leader on the floor. Her maturity from a year ago has been tremendous.”

Dailey’s maturation can be heard on the court. As the setter she has to be vocal in order to get her hitters in position and to keep the team playing at a high level.

“She tries to bring a lot more intensity to the game,” Bedell said. “When we aren’t being as aggressive as we need to be, she’ll try to bring that out of us. She has to talk every single play, so it’s easy for people to look for her.”

Dailey’s growth this year can be attributed to the tough seasons the Hawkeyes have endured during her career. Dailey now is not only a leader for Iowa but also a part of a team that wants to win.

“This year, I and a few other [women] naturally stepped up,” Dailey said. “[That] comes from the desire to win. Our class wants to win so bad that we’re pushing everybody to want to win that badly, too.”


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