Starting lineup thrown in a blender for Iowa volleyball

BY KYLE MANN | OCTOBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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Bond Shymansky was elated when he was given the job to be the coach of the Hawkeye volleyball team. His hiring was about more than simply being a coach in 2014, however, with Shymansky’s eyes on rebuilding the program for the immediate future.

Most notably, Shymansky has implemented a new offense, but the weekend’s pair of 3-0 losses against Ohio State and Penn State provided the first significant coaching decision by him.

Iowa had appeared to have settled in to a starting lineup prior to opening Big Ten play, but when the team took the floor on Oct. 3 in an eventual 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 loss against Ohio State, three new starters were among them. Freshmen Kaylee Smith and Danielle Cabel made their first career starts, and Kari Mueller made her first of the season.

Curiously, however, their starting débuts came at the cost of sitting down some of the team’s primary contributors thus far. Senior Alex Lovell, the team’s most prolific attacker with 155 kills and 3.37 per set, was not only left out of the starting lineup but didn’t make an appearance until the third set.

Alyssa Klostermann entered the weekend as the team’s starting setter and led the team in assists. The sophomore did not play a single point on Oct. 3 and wasn’t subbed in until midway through the final set in a 25-15, 25-14, 25-11 loss to the Nittany Lions.

“Every player in our program has had opportunities, in the preseason, pre-conference, and now,” Shymansky said. “Nobody is above the specter of evaluation.”

When Lovell finally entered the match against the Buckeyes, she registered 6 kills with a .667 hitting percentage in a short third set.

Shymansky eventually lauded Lovell as a standout performer that night and re-inserted the senior into the starting lineup the following night.

“I think every one of us wants to play; it’s not a question of anyone does,” Lovell said. “Being on the sideline, you get that perspective that you don’t necessarily have in the game. It does light a fire in you.”

Amid all the shuffling and uncertainty regarding who will be on the floor, sophomore Lauren Brobst is emerging as a lethal weapon from the outside hitter position.

Brobst, who showed promise in her freshman season, is considered by Shymansky to be one of the most powerful terminators on the team. That ability is showing in full force in recent weeks — she has led the Hawkeyes in kills for three-straight matches, and after the weekend, she is officially the team’s leading attacker in conference play with 28 kills in the first four matches.

Brobst can likely be penciled in to the next match’s starting lineup, but it will be interesting to see who else Shymansky was most impressed with during this weekend of adjustments and evaluations.

“As a coach, if we were winning, and I was taking players out while we were winning, then I would regret it,” Shymansky said. “But we’re not winning right now in league play. So until we find the group that’s going to go out there and win for us, we’re going to keep spinning the dial and looking for the right competitive unit.”

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

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