Iowa volleyball falls to Nebraska in straight sets


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The Iowa Hawkeyes (10-12, Big Ten 2-7) fell to the No. 5-Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-2, 8-1) on Wednesday in straight sets (25-22, 25-14, 25-9) in their annual Breast Cancer Awareness match.

“We didn’t compete very hard and it was disappointing. We’d get Nebraska out of system but then we would shank [the ball] … Things like that will deflate you,” Dingman said. “I don’t know what happened, but I don’t think we were very sharp mentally tonight. We let them push us around until there was no more push.”

Playing in front of one of the biggest Carver-Hawkeye crowds of the season, Iowa began the match with the urgency of a team trying to forget its previous two Big Ten defeats.

The Hawkeyes played well in the opening set, but doomed themselves by committing seven errors. Those errors played a big part in Iowa squandering its 5-point lead, 19-14, and eventually the set.

“We broke down mentally,” junior Chanté Thompson said. “In the first set,. we came out and tried to prove ourselves. In the second set, we got defeated mentally because we lost.”

Hawkeyes lost their mojo after the opening set. They came out flat in the second set and paid dearly as Nebraska took control of the match and eventually came out with a W.

Nebraska began the second set like a true top-five team after being surprised by the Hawkeyes in the opening frame.

The Cornhuskers got out to an early 11-6 lead in the second set to force an Iowa time-out. Nebraska, however, would not look back. The Huskers continued their dominant play and closed out the set, 25-14.

“We came out strong. We were right there with them point-for-point in the first set. I think after we lost the first set, it just went downhill from there,” team captain Bethany Yeager said. “We didn’t come out fired up in the second set and it showed. It hurt us a lot that we couldn’t find a way to push back against them.”

The Hawkeyes’ level of play regressed tremendously in the second set as they lost their rhythm in the passing game and kept committing untimely errors.

“Our passing slowed down, which of course didn’t allow our hitters to kill the ball,” Thompson said. “That’s where it mentally broke down for us.”

For Iowa, most, if not all, of the passing duties come down to setter Nikki Dailey. Dailey record her 15th double-double of the season — 26 assists and 13 digs — but was unable to help rally her team when they needed it the most.

“I didn’t think we served and pass very well,” Dingman said. “For us to have a chance, we have to serve and pass well.”

The passing, however, wasn’t the only problem Iowa faced. Hitting —which has been suspect all season — wasn’t any different against Nebraska. The Hawkeyes hit an awful .084 for the match and hit negative in the third set. Iowa only had one player with double digit kills; junior Rachael Bedell led Iowa with 14.

“We definitely need to work on our focus [during the game],” Yeager said. “We were prepared and ready when we first came out, but it dwindled. We weren’t there physically or mentally, and it showed tonight.”

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