Lovell a humble hero for Hawkeye volleyball


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Alex Lovell was one of the statistical leaders for the Hawkeyes in 2013, so entering her final season in 2014, she was going to be counted upon to be a major cog in the offense. Ten games into the season, that has been true for Lovell, whose silent tenacity sets the tone for the team.

One might not expect it from the powerful outside hitter, but Lovell is fairly soft-spoken and polite. As such, the senior isn’t one of the players who leads by always riding her teammates and yelling their ears off. Rather, Lovell goes about her business and leads by showing how things are done and done well.

“We have not asked her to be loud or boisterous,” Iowa head coach Bond Shymansky said. “She has to do it by example and by performance on the floor.”

Lovell is also an exemplary student, and Shymansky appreciates that aspect of her career, because he is working to build the “Great Today” culture around the program, challenging the team to take pride in doing the best at whatever they do.

“Off the court, she is a brilliant student, so she brings such a great work ethic for us,” Shymansky said. “She really does the student-athlete thing the right way, and those are people you can trust in your program.”

That work ethic and focus, as Shymansky hoped, has been noticed by her teammates.

Alessandra Dietz has played with Lovell since high school at Marian High School in Michigan, and cites the same central characteristics of Lovell’s demeanor.

“She’s a great leader,” Dietz said. “She’s really good at picking people up and she can mentally lock into what she needs to do. If she isn’t hitting well, she’ll pass well; if she’s not passing well, she’ll hit well. She’s good at shaking off the last point and moving on and encouraging her teammates to do that as well.”

There hasn’t been much to shake off thus far. The Hawkeyes are 8-2 and went undefeated in their last tournament before facing Iowa State and moving into conference play. Lovell has been the fire behind the hot start.

In her junior season, Lovell logged 405 kills on 3.35 per set. Not even a month or 50 percent into the season, and not having even entered conference play yet, Lovell has 121 kills and has jumped to 3.67 per set — a mark good for fifth in the Big Ten but not yet good enough for Lovell.

“I want to be that player. I want to be the player our team can look to get the point when we need it,” she said. “It’s something I still want to work on, but I want to be that reliable leader. Hopefully, I can get my skill set and mindset there.”

You could call it hungry; always wanting to get better. But such a response isn’t surprising from the humble senior.

Despite her drastic impact on Iowa’s early success, she deflects attention away from herself, instead praising Shymansky and her teammates for attacking this season differently than in the past.

“A lot of other people bring the fire and spirit to the team, so I don’t think it’s just on me,” Lovell said. “I want to leave a legacy and make an impact on the program. Bond has made that a very doable objective.”

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

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