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Iowa volleyball to host Wisconsin

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | OCTOBER 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa volleyball team will continue with Big Ten play tonight when Wisconsin comes to town.

The game, which will start at 6:30 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, is the Black and Gold’s first home Big Ten match of the season. The game is an Attacking Breast Cancer night, a pink-out in which all fans are encouraged to participate by wearing pink in support of breast-cancer awareness.

“[Last weekend] we served very well and we blocked very well, so we clearly want to continue that trend,” head coach Sharon Dingman said. “Serving helps a lot, so those things do tend to go hand-in-hand.”

Although the Hawks dropped both of last week’s matches to Illinois and Northwestern, 3-0, Dingman saw positives, namely good energy and aggression, which she hopes will show up tonight against the Badgers.

“When we served the ball pretty aggressively like we did, our blocking gets a lot easier,” she said. “Our biggest trouble over the weekend was getting kills, and that’s where you’re going to get the most points. You’re going to produce some points blocking, but nowhere near the number you get from kills.”

The Hawkeyes will have to bring everything they have against Wisconsin, which is ranked 23rd in the country and is riding a seven-game winning streak that has seen the Badgers lose only five sets in the last three weeks.

Junior outside hitter Alex Lovell hopes to make an impact in the kill department; she had double-digit kills in both games this past weekend.

Senior captain Bethany Yeager will seek to aid the defense. She has led the team in digs every year she’s been at Iowa, and she is fifth all-time for the Hawkeyes with more than 1,500.

Junior Erin Leppek recognizes just how important consistent play and avoiding errors can be when playing a tough Big Ten team like Wisconsin.

“I think we just have to stay consistent, and that will make us successful,” Leppek said. “Consistent passing, consistent hitting, consistent setting, be consistent with our serves are all big.”

The Hawkeyes have struggled with consistency all season and in past seasons. Last year, they rang up more than 700 errors, and they are on pace for a similar total this year. Already 0-2 in Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes will need big games up and down the entire roster if they want to defeat Wisconsin, a team that defeated them in both of their meetings last year, 3-2 and 3-0.

“One thing I’ve learned, and I think the whole team has learned, is just how valuable every point is,” junior Allie Dietz said. “Every point matters, and we really have to take advantage of every point and every situation that the other team puts us in.”

And when you are playing a team as tough as Wisconsin, it’s these tiny differences that can affect the outcome of the game.

“If they send over a free ball or something like that, we have to take advantage of it, and really capitalize on the points that the other team makes, we can win,” Dietz said. “We need to let them make the mistakes.”


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