Iowa volleyball opens home season with No. 8 Nebraska


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The Iowa volleyball team is finally set to make its 2014 home début, hosting Nebraska in the tail end of a home-and-home in the conference’s opening week at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The two teams met earlier this week, opening Big Ten play on Wednesday in Lincoln. The Hawkeyes dropped their first conference match in straight sets, 25-18, 25-13, 31-29.

Now, the young team is going to get its first feel for the fast-paced tempo of the conference schedule and try to improve in a short time.

“It’s definitely going to be a fast turnaround,” Alyssa Klostermann said. “A big part of our game is film, so I know we’re going to put a lot of emphasis on that. That helps a lot to know what they do and how they do it.”

After getting on-court action against the Cornhuskers, Iowa has an initial feel for how it is to play against one of the top teams in the country.

Being matched up against such elite competition, however, it will be interesting to see how much difference is shown on the floor after only a few days of film and practice. If all goes according to plan for Bond Shymansky and his staff, the results will be evident.

“A lot of it is about our ability to adjust. When you play against great teams, even if you get an early lead, they find new and different ways to challenge you,” Shymansky said. “We have to be prepared for that. We have to anticipate better as a coaching staff and help our team through those moments, so we can be a little more malleable and fluid in terms of our overall play.”

One point of attention that the Hawkeyes will certainly look to alleviate is the impact of Nebraska’s star sophomore Kadie Rolfzen. Rolfzen, a third-team All-American as a freshman, was coming off a 21-kill performance against No. 2 Texas entering Wednesday’s match. She followed that with 15 kills versus the Hawkeyes, along with 7 digs.

Rolfzen’s twin sister, Amber, also chipped in 10 kills with a .625 hitting percentage. The 6-3 outside hitters will command the full attention of Iowa’s defense if they want to snap their 0-21 losing streak in the all-time series.

Leading the Hawkeyes the first time around were seniors Alex Lovell and Alessandra Dietz. Lovell had only 9 kills, one of the rare instances this season under double digits. Dietz, who had 8 kills, believes the team has enough talent to compete but needs to be more consistent and dialed in.

Perhaps having the support of their home crowd for the first time this season will allow the Hawkeyes to zone in and prove they can be legitimate competitors in the Big Ten.

“No matter what team we play we just need to take it from them right at the beginning,” Dietz said. “We need to assert ourselves and not take any points off. We’ll play really well for 5 points and then kind of lull back down. We just need to keep asserting ourselves and stay mentally focused.”

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

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