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Lack of experience vital flaw for volleyball

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | NOVEMBER 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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For the bulk of the 2013 season, the University of Iowa volleyball team has been stuck chasing their tails.

Not literally of course, but they are caught in the middle of one of the greatest paradoxes in the sporting world: winning experience.

It takes experience to win consistently in a top volleyball conference like the Big Ten, something the 1-11 conference Hawkeyes have had trouble gaining this season.  And how do you gain experience? By winning of course.

And therein lies the problem.  The team can’t win until they find some experience, but the only way to really gain any is by winning.  It’s a vicious cycle, and the Black and Gold are caught smack dab in the middle of it.

“We obviously haven’t had as much experience as we’d like to have, and it’s something we definitely do need to have,” senior Bethany Yeager said.  “It’s a good thing to have in those close games.”

What makes it worse is just how close the Black and Gold is to breaking out. 

Although they are only 1-11 in conference play, it is clear that this Hawkeye team is much better than their record indicates.  All season they have managed to keep games close with teams ranked much higher than them, and yet almost every time they have failed to push through and get over the hump to actually win.

A perfect example of this problem is their next opponent, Minnesota.  When the Hawks last hosted the Gophers, they went up 2-0 early and were only one set away from upsetting the No. 12 ranked squad.  However, they couldn’t close it out and managed to let Minnesota storm back and win three straight sets to take the match.

“Last time when we went up 2-0, experience was something we didn’t have that could have pushed us over, so hopefully we’ve learned since then and hopefully it will show,” Yeager said. 

Though it obviously is something that has loomed in the back of their minds this season, many on the team still fell that this is a hurdle they can overcome.

While senior Rachael Bedell recognizes the fact that gaining experience is still something the Hawkeyes have not yet to been able to accomplish, she is confident that success is not far off. 

“For me personally, I think one of the big things is just to keep having fun with it,” Bedell said.  “I think when we’re loose and having fun things come together for us, and when we tense up and get nervous is when things fall apart like it did in the Minnesota match.”

“When we get up on some of these teams and they bounce back and even it up, we don’t know how to respond to them.  A lot of times when we have a lead on a top-ten team, we don’t know how to act like a top team to keep that lead, which is obviously something that needs work,” senior Nikki Dailey said. 

So how can the Hawkeye’s take that final step to push them over the threshold of winning?  Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer.  If there was, head coach Sharon Dingman and the Hawkeyes would have corrected it long ago.  However, as with any sport, practice and repetition can only put you closer to achieving your final goal, something the Hawks recognize.

“We know that if we come in here every day and work harder than everyone else that we can beat anyone,” Yeager said.


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