Iowa volleyball players from Texas get different results


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The Iowa volleyball team has a noticeable Texas influence. Assistant coach Jason Allen and juniors Rachael Bedell, Chanté Thompson, and Bethany Yeager hail from the Lone Star State and have all brought some of the south with them to Iowa.

Allen, who was hired before the 2008 season, coached club volleyball and gained fame while in Texas. His numerous stops as a coach and recruiting coordinator allowed him to make connections with such players as Yeager and Bedell, who is a former Daily Iowan employee.

“[Texas] is much bigger than Iowa, and there are so many more volleyball players,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of competition in Texas, and that generates a lot of good volleyball.”

There are more than 25,000,000 people in Texas; 27 percent of the population is under 18 years of age, which creates the opportunity for consistent high-school recruits in sports such as football, basketball, and volleyball.

“In high-school competition is really high, you have to come out every single day ready to play,” Brenham, Texas, native Yeager said. “Playing at that level in high school and in club, with Jason, prepared me mentally and physically for college. A lot of those players who I played against are playing in college now, and I get to play against them in the Big Ten.”

The number of people in one state leads to higher competition and eventually better recruits.

“Where I and Rachael played, everyone learned each position,” Hurst, Texas, native Thompson said. “Rachael used to play every position, and I used to play two. That eventually molded us to have a high volleyball IQ. For us, it was learning volleyball IQ first, then learning a position.”

Allen was able to take advantage of the talent by being able to coach and eventually recruit some of his players to play for the Hawkeyes.

“The connections that I have from Texas are helping and have helped us a lot in recruiting,” he said.
The assistant coach was able to connect with the three current Hawkeyes because he coached Yeager for a season, and their Texas Tornados team faced Bedell’s and Thompson’s side seven times in one year.

Since coming to Iowa, Allen has been able to help bring in nationally honored recruiting classes. But recruiting is just a part of how Texas has influenced the Iowa volleyball team, because the now-upperclassmen have had to adjust from the Southern way of life to the Midwest.

In two-plus seasons at Iowa, each woman has had a different experience.

After a strong freshman campaign, Bedell struggled in her second year. Her playing time was reduced, as was Thompson’s — although that reduction had much to do with a nagging knee injury.

Both, however, have rebounded and have consistently started for the Hawkeyes in their third year.

Yeager, on the other hand, has only missed one set in her career as a Hawkeye (289-290). She has also been climbing the Iowa career digs list; she is ranked sixth and is on pace to leave school as the all-time leader.

“To see them grow as women, not just volleyball players, and mature and starting to see them think about their future outside of college is rewarding,” Allen said.

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