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New faces on the floor for Hawkeye Volleyball

BY KYLE MANN | AUGUST 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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When Bond Shymansky was named head coach of the Iowa volleyball team at the end of January, he had to do two things: get acquainted with his new team and start recruiting players for the program he’d just inherited.

Shymansky started quickly and added four recruits to the program before the end of May. Danielle Cabel, Taylin Alm, Michelle Fugarino, and Mikaela Gunderson joined Kaylee Smith and Jess Janota, who remained loyal to commitments to previous coach Sharon Dingman, in the recruiting class of 2014.

“Recruiting is half of what we do every day — that’ll never change. We’re always out there as a coaching staff trying to recruit the next best thing or get a player that helps us get better,” Shymansky said. “Certainly, bringing in six players is a lot. We just knew we wanted some skill and some depth.”

Though he’s only been on the job for fewer than seven months, Shymansky didn’t have much trouble selling his product.

“The University of Iowa sells itself as an academic institution — and really the Athletics Department, the facilities, and all the people that surround our program — the support here is phenomenal,” he said. “When recruits get on campus and see that vision with their own eyes, they feel it in their gut, and they know they want to be a part of something special.”

Shymansky said as many as four of the newcomers could find themselves as part of the starting lineup when the team opens the season Friday at the Texas A&M Tournament versus the hosting Aggies.

Though the Hawkeyes are young, they are a notably talented collection of players. Prep Volleyball named the six-member class to the Highest Honorable Mention list, and each freshman has an impressive background.

Smith, whose mother played at Iowa, was captain of her back-to-back conference champion team at Indianola High School and was a two-time All-State selection. Despite being the only player still in high school, she was also captain of the 2013 USA Women’s Junior National Team, which won gold in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“We trained for six days, and then we played for five days,” she said. “It was a great experience. I met a lot of great players.”

Janota was a first-team All-State selection at Gilmour Academy in Concord, Ohio, and she also had an impressive club volleyball career on a national level. The 6-3 middle blocker was an Under Armour All-American nominee and was named to the 2012 USA Women’s National Training Team.

Those two commitments from the previous coach were both lauded by Dingman for their extensive experience and success in high school and club volleyball, and she predicted a smoother transition for them than that of typical freshmen.

Shymansky believes he found another player with a smooth transition in junior-to-be Gunderson, a transfer from Wisconsin-Green Bay. As a sophomore, she led the Division-I Phoenix in blocks and blocks per set and was third in kills and kills per set.

Fugarino, a 5-5 defensive specialist from Muskego, Wisconsin, was an All-State selection and two-time Prep Volleyball Defensive Dandy, as well as a two-time Prep Volleyball All-American.

Alm, of Mitchell, South Dakota, a 6-4 right side hitter, was All-State twice and owns her school’s season and career kills records. She had first committed to play at Pepperdine, in California, but was drawn to Shymansky after a coaching shuffle of her own.

“I just felt like it wasn’t right for me at the time, so I decided to pull out of my signing,” Alm said. “I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I talked to Bond and really liked him, so I came here.”

Cabel, a Bettendorf native, had committed to Ohio prior to committing to Shymansky, and she was also first-team All-State twice. Additionally, the 6-2 outside hitter holds Davenport Assumption’s career and season records in kills and blocks.

With a new coach and six new players likely to contribute, it appears that a new wave has lifted Iowa volleyball.

“I think so,” Cabel said. “I think a lot of stuff has changed around here, and we’re all really pushing each other. It’s really competitive.”


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