For volleyball, personal records take back seat to team success


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While junior Alex Lovell earned her 1000th career kill on Oct. 26 at Penn State, it was not enough to lift the Hawkeyes to a victory, and they eventually fell to the Nittany Lions in three straight sets. 

While this may come as a bit of a shock, past trends in the Iowa volleyball program show that this is more the rule than the exception, a fact that was magnified by the Hawkeye’s disappointing loss.

“[Last weekend] it didn’t make one bit of difference.  Alex hit that benchmark and we still lost, so I’m sure it meant very little to her because of the final outcome,” head coach Sharon Dingman said.

Lovell echoed Dingman’s sentiments about her personal success. 

“Individually, I really don’t think there is much correlation there,” Lovell said.  “It takes a team to win games not just one player.  Volleyball is a team sport, so personally I don’t really rely on that to judge a season, although it’s a nice accomplishment.”

Lovell’s current tally of 1,002 career kills is good for No. 17 overall in Iowa history, however a quick glance at the stats leaders will further underscore the opinions of Dingman and Lovell.

Take former Hawkeye Laura Simpson for example.  She currently sits one spot ahead of Lovell for all time kills with 1,059.  She is also one of the more recent members on the list, having played at Iowa from 2001-2004.  Still, in her final season, the year she joined the list, Iowa only managed only one Big Ten win, much in the same vain of this current Hawkeye squad.

When you look at Iowa in the past 30 years, the trend is consistent. While Iowa has 17 girls who have reached 1000+ total kills in their time at here, they have never been able to turn it into a successful team season, never winning a Big Ten title, and never advancing past the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Senior Bethany Yeager is in a similar boat. Yeager’s career total of 1,881 career kills puts her third all-time on Iowa’s list, and only 50 more away from the all-time record of 1,931, which was set by Janet Moylan back in 1990.

Although she is close, Yeager has kept focused on making the team better and focusing on their next opponent, letting personal accolades fall by the wayside.

“I really haven’t even thought about it,” Yeager said.  “I’m just trying to play as a team and focus on winning as we head into the second half of our season, which is something I think we’ve all been focusing on.  Individual play contributes to the team effort.”

True, the Black and Gold historically haven’t been able to turn record setters into winners, but that doesn’t mean that this trend is without a silver lining.  For one, Lovell and Yeager’s success in the record books has been used as a teaching tool by Dingman to help show the rest of the team how hard work pays off.

“I think the biggest key to it is just how they train,” Dingman said.  “They both train really hard and they’ve both been really committed to improving their games and the play of the team as a whole.”

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