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Iowa volleyball prepares to continue last weekend's success

BY CARLOS SOSA | OCTOBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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It’s been six days since the Iowa volleyball team defeated then-No. 12 Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. In the days since, the the Hawkeyes have maintained their focus on continuing the level of play that brought them their first two Big Ten wins.

“We’ve never come off a weekend like that,” junior captain Bethany Yeager said. “So we know we’re going to have to do a lot more this week. Were going to have to change up our shots, and we’re changing our defenses for Minnesota and Wisconsin both.”

The Hawkeyes’ success came despite an ACL injury to freshman outside hitter Erin Radke. The coaching staff added sophomore Erin Leppek to the lineup while moving traditional middle blocker Chanté Thompson to the outside as an attacker in the aftermath.

“What that did for us was put a more experienced player on the floor,” assistant coach Ben Boldt said. “Chanté did a great job with block setup. If Radke doesn’t get injured, it’s just going to be a different dynamic with our team.”

The Hawkeyes played well offensively with Leppek in the lineup and were able to surprise opponents with a consistent attack. Iowa hit .291 against the Boilermakers and .236 against Indiana.

If the Iowa offense can maintain its high-percentage hitting, it should continue to produce. The Hawkeyes will need to keep pace with Minnesota, which ranks ninth in the nation in kills per set (14.58).

“Remembering what we did was good, but now we’re tweaking it for [Minnesota and Wisconsin],” junior hitter Rachael Bedell said. “I’m prepared for people to guard my shots down the line, so I have to move it across. Same for Alex [Lovell] — she’s going to have to mix it up as well.”

Bedell and Lovell have proven how valuable they are in the Hawkeye offense. Bedell recorded a career-high 26 kills against Indiana, and Lovell earned the Big Ten Player of the Week honor after her career-high 24-kill performance in the upset of the Boilermakers.

With a new lineup and a rejuvenated offense, the Hawkeyes have focused on the fundamentals of the game. Executing on offense hinges on doing the little things correctly.

“We always have to work on two things: how well we serve and how well we pass,” Boldt said. “It’ll give our offense an opportunity to make plays, and if we serve well, an opportunity for our defense to make plays. If we stay solid like that, it’s like controlling the line in football.”

The Hawkeyes have gone through a week in unfamiliar territory, but tonight, the goal will be to add on to the momentum built last weekend in West Lafayette, Ind.

“We’re happy with getting our first two Big Ten wins but we’re not at all satisfied,” Bedell said. “We want to mirror the type of attitude and work ethic that we had last week because people aren’t going to be undermining us anymore. [Teams] know now what we can do, so we have to be ready to go every day.”


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