Hawkeyes work in practice pays off in undefeated weekend


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Leading into the South Dakota State University Challenge, Hawkeye volleyball coach Bond Shymansky said his team had played well early in the season but the Hawks hadn’t quite hit their stride yet. After emerging as tournament champions of the busiest weekend of the young campaign, they have to be getting close.

With four games in two days, the Hawkeyes seemed to get on track early on Sept. 12 and ride the success to a title the following day. In the four matches, Iowa dropped only one set.

Action began against Eastern Illinois, which also entered the weekend at 4-2, and the Panthers came out of the gate rather quickly. They had Iowa down 5-0, and then 11-4. After Iowa captured its first lead at 19-18, the Hawkeyes tied again at 22.

Finishing the comeback, Iowa won the set 25-23. Freshman Jess Janota had 7 kills in the set alone.

Set two was another back-and-forth affair, once tied at 20. Shymansky kept the Hawkeyes focused, however, and they were able to win the set 25-23. Set three secured the sweep in convincing fashion, as the Hawkeyes won 25-15.

A closely contested win to begin the tournament likely gave Iowa confidence moving forward. After a tough loss to Arizona State last weekend, the team tried to work in practice on staying focused to details and being mentally tuned in all match long.

The second match on Sept. 12 was against North Dakota. The Bison had won five of their last six matches, but it was Iowa’s turn to be the hot team this weekend.

Shymansky seems to have settled in to a starting lineup of Alessandra Dietz, Alex Lovell, Mikaela Gunderson, Alyssa Klostermann, Lauren Brobst, Michelle Fugarino, and Janota. They captured the first set, 25-21, and the second by the same score.

North Dakota offered resistance in the third set, and the Hawkeyes again responded by securing a set that was even most of the way, 25-23, for the second sweep of the day.

The first match the following day was more of the same. Florida International battled, and the first set was tied at 24. The Hawkeyes won 26-25.

The Black and Gold dropped their only set of the weekend in the second set, but led by Klostermann in the third set, responded with a 25-18 victory to maintain a 2-1 advantage.

Set four was another challenge, but the battle-tested Hawkeyes were in the zone. Once down 21-15, they came roaring back for a 25-23 victory.

The last course of the Hawkeyes feast was the hosting Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.

Dietz had 8 kills to power the team to a 25-17 win the first set. After a 25-22 win in the second set and a 25-19 victory in the third, Dietz finished with a season-high 15 kills, and Iowa was the champions of the tournament.

Dietz was named to the All-Tournament team for the second-straight week, along with junior transfer Gunderson.

Shymansky said he wants his team to be playing its best when it travels to Ames in the final match before Big Ten play, and after an undefeated weekend, he’s got to be pleased with the direction of his team. The Hawkeyes will travel to Ames on Friday.

Follow @KyleFMann on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa volleyball team.

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