Iowa looks for redemption against Minnesota, Wisconsin this weekend


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The Iowa volleyball team will continue its Big Ten schedule this weekend with back-to-back matchups today and Saturday against Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Black and Gold will fly to Minnesota on Friday and face the Gophers at 7 p.m. in Minneapolis before they travel four hours to Madison to take on the Badgers in Madison at 1 p.m. the next day. 

The Golden Gophers are currently No. 9 in the country, with a 9-3 record in the Big Ten so far this season, as well as a 21-4 record overall.

In their last meeting on Oct. 5, Minnesota was able to rally from a 2-0 deficit to come back and win three-straight sets against the Hawks to avoid the upset.

“I think we have a lot more confidence going in to face them this time just because we were able to play so well against them in our last meeting,” senior Beth Yeager said.  “I think we should have a lot of confidence going forward knowing that we can beat them if we play our game and stick to it and put ourselves in a position to win.”

The Hawkeyes are at their best when they are getting consistent serving and move the ball well as a unit, something that Yeager knows will be absolutely vital to the effort if they want to pull of the upset.

“To put ourselves in that position, we know we have to do it with our serving and our passing and our team defense, which is something that I think we did really well last time,” Yeager said.

Minnesota ranks in the top three for hitting percentage, blocks, and digs in the Big Ten, and while Iowa certainly recognizes the Gophers’ skill level, the Hawks also know that they are a talented team who can hang with anyone in the conference.

“With Minnesota, they definitely have some girls like Tori Dixon who are like 4 or 5 inches taller than our tallest girls, so height is definitely one of their strengths,” senior Rachel Bedell said. “But if we play to our strengths I think we’ll be fine.”

Senior Nikki Dailey echoed Bedell’s thoughts on the competition.

“They’re a tough team, but definitely one that’s beatable, as are most of the teams in the Big Ten,” Dailey said.

Saturday’s match against Wisconsin again features a team that the Hawkeyes have already played this year, having dropping their last meeting, 3-1, at home on Oct. 2.

The Badgers are a team that plays tough defense.  They are currently second in the Big Ten in opponents’ hitting percentage, having limited their opposition to a measly .162 this season. 

Wisconsin has an 18-6 record this season, 7-5 in the Big Ten.  They hold a 47-20-1 all time record against the Hawks and haven’t been defeated by the Black and Gold since 2009.

Still, Iowa is going into the showdown Saturday against the Badgers with winning expectations.

“If we come into these matches having worked harder than anyone else, then we can beat these teams,” Yeager said.

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