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Home jitters jinx young Iowa volleyball

BY KYLE MANN | SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa volleyball team played the first home match of the Bond Shymansky era on Sept. 27, hosting No. 8 Nebraska. The Huskers won in straight sets, 25-21, 25-13, 25-16.

The Hawkeyes haven’t captured a set in the series since 1987, but despite the sweep, the buzz and excitement that has been surrounding the program since Shymansky’s arrival was palpable in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Hawkeye volleyball supporters were out in full force for the season’s home-opener. In fact, the 2,631 fans in attendance ranks as the fourth-most in program history.

Though the team certainly appreciated the impressive turnout, Shymansky believes the atmosphere may have had an adverse effect on his young squad and ultimately contributed to the way the loss unfolded.

“You could see the nerves of our group a little bit,” he said. “You would think coming home finally after 12 matches on the road, we would be eager and ready to get in there, but we were really anxious, and I don’t blame them.”

Freshman Jess Janota, who had 5 kills in the match, agreed that Carver-Hawkeye offered a much different atmosphere from what she has experienced.

“I was excited,” she said. “I think maybe overly excited, to first get out there and see everyone, see all the Hawkeye fans, and just get comfortable on the court in a playing atmosphere.”

Senior Alex Lovell, who had 8 kills and 5 digs, also understands how the venue may have affected the young players, but noted that can’t be an excuse.

“Nerves may have played a role in our lack of success tonight,” Lovell said. “For the freshmen, it’s their first time being at home in the Carver atmosphere, so perhaps that caused some anxiety and nervousness. But for the older players, it wasn’t the jitters; it was just a lack of execution.”

Surely, much was left to be desired of the Iowa offense. Not a single Hawkeye reached double-digits in kills, and the team collectively was outhit by the Huskers, .371 to .152.

It is worth noting that sophomore Lauren Brobst led the team with a season-high 9 kills, and she was lauded by Shymansky for being a “dominating” hitter for stretches.

The good news for Iowa is Shymansky is adamant that Iowa City hasn’t seen the full product after only one match.

“I liked how we battled better in Lincoln, frankly, than how we battled tonight,” Shymansky said. “Each match it seems like we have different individual players who are stepping up and having good individual performances. When we have six players out there who have great performances individually, then we’ll have a great match and get a win.”

Shymansky has preached since his hiring in early February that he wants to revitalize the program at Iowa and that includes regaining the excitement of the community. He and the team are eager to give the fans a performance to be proud of.

“We’re going to need to find ways to draw in our home crowd and add more energy to what we’re doing,” he said. “I know if we give it to the fans, Carver-Hawkeye will give it back.”

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


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