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Influx of talent gives volleyball valuable depth

BY KYLE MANN | SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Bond Shymansky era at Iowa is still young, so his fingerprints on the program are still relatively faint. That doesn’t mean, however, that this year’s Iowa squad isn’t going to look vastly different from what it has in the past.

In practice and on the floor in the season’s out-of-conference matches, it has become obvious that not only have new philosophies been introduced by Shymansky and his staff, but the team is utilizing a bevy of offensive firepower on this year’s roster.

Alex Lovell and Alessandra Dietz are seniors who made a significant impact last season, and junior Erin Radke and sophomore Lauren Brobst also were good statistical performers.

This season, however, with Shymansky’s large and talented six-member recruiting class, an influx of talent has set the coach up with a deep and versatile bench with which to get his new offense running.

“With the scheme that Bond runs, everything is so much quicker,” Radke said. “Then having so many people with so much height and a lot of physical ability, I think this year is definitely much stronger than in the past.”

Shymansky has tried to be adamant about bringing a refreshing, intense culture back to the Iowa volleyball program, and the increase in talent has helped that.

The players have noticed a drastic change around Carver-Hawkeye, and they note that the added competition has kept everybody on her toes and on her game in practice.

“Now in the gym, it’s a really competitive atmosphere all the time,” Dietz said. “No one’s spot is guaranteed, and you have to come work for it every day.”

Freshmen Jess Janota and Taylin Alm have been pleasant surprises for Shymansky on the right side, and junior transfer Mikaela Gunderson has also been a strong performer up front for the Hawkeyes.

Freshman Danielle Cabel has also accrued 11 sets played thus far.

The most notable consequence of the added talent has been that Radke — who was a solid hitter for the Hawkeyes last season — has had to accept a decrease in time on the floor. To her credit, Radke accepts her new role with open arms.

“This has been a transition year for everybody, with Bond being here and having new girls and so much competition,” she said. “I think I’ve just gotten fewer opportunities, but at the same time, it’s benefited the team because we’re winning games and playing well.”

The upbeat Radke has remained positive, and she has found other ways to help the team without being on the floor. She says she embraces the opportunity to teach the younger players at her position and serve as a kind of mentor.

If there’s one thing Shymansky has most noticeably had an effect on thus far, it’s been the culture of the team. Along with the added competitiveness, the team is adjusting to the influx of players well and seems very willing to come together and do what’s best for Iowa.

“I like to relate it to men’s basketball; how they always say they have so many players on the bench who are ready and willing to come in and play,” Alyssa Klostermann said. “That’s just like us. We have so many players that can come in for a special job. It’s nice to have someone to come in and get the job done.”

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


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