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Hawkeyes look to repeat history

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | OCTOBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa volleyball team will try to repeat history this weekend when it plays host to Purdue and Indiana on Friday and Saturday night.

The Hawkeyes managed to secure just two Big Ten wins last season, coming against, you guessed it: Purdue and Indiana. The Black and Gold beat Indiana 3-1 and were then able to turn around and upset No. 12 Purdue the next day.

While it was certainly the high-water mark for the Hawks’ season, head coach Sharon Dingman realizes that was the past, and if the Hawkeyes want to have success again this year, they must focus solely on what lies ahead of them.

“We haven’t even thought about last year and what happened then,” Dingman said. “Well, at least I haven’t at all. It’s completely different teams, especially their teams, which are vastly different. We’re really just trying to build off of what we did last week against Michigan.”

While Purdue will return four fourth-year senior starters, it will be without former outside hitter standout Ariel Turner, who last year was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection and led the conference with 4.64 kills per set.

“[Ariel Turner] was one of the best players the Big Ten has seen in years, so they are still trying to figure some stuff out just as we are,” Dingman said.

On the other side of things, Indiana returns with the nucleus of its team relatively intact. While the Hoosiers did lose seniors Whitney Granado and Kelci Marshall, senior Jordan Haverly, an All Big-Ten team honorable mention in 2012, and freshman standouts Megan Tallman and Jazzmine McDonald have stepped up to fill the void.

Indiana went 4-16 in conference play last year and has yet to win this season; however, in a conference as competitive as the Big Ten, overall records must be taken with a grain of salt.

“They’re very similar to us,” Dingman said. “Breaking down that wall and taking that final step is something I think both of our teams have struggled with.”

Iowa will go into this year’s matchups without Chante’ Thompson, Katie Kelley, and Allison Straumann, who graduated; ¬†however, current seniors Rachael Bedell and Nikki Daily have picked up where they left off.

Juniors Alex Lovell, who was one of three players on the team last year to play all 33 matches for the Hawkeyes, and Kari Mueller, who saw action in 21 matches, also echoed coaches points about not dwelling on the past.

“It’s a new year and we’re a whole new team, so I think we should come into it just like we would any other match,” Mueller said.

While the outcomes of past matches may not play a role in the mind of Mueller and Dingman, some of her players remember quite well how Iowa’s last meetings with the Boilermakers and Hoosiers went, and they are hungry to replicate their success.

“It definitely adds extra motivation as we head into this weekend. We’re not harping on last year, and we know we have work to do, but it’s in the back of our minds,” senior Bethany Yeager said.


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