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Iowa loses five set battle with Illinois

BY IAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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It was a night of firsts for the Iowa volleyball team, and although the Hawkeyes did not come away with the win, they showed serious fight against a top-15 opponent.

The Hawkeyes won the first set — their first in Big Ten play this season. They also played their first five-set match of the season. The Hawkeyes had been swept in their first six Big Ten matches.

Still, Iowa lost a heartbreaker at home to No. 11 Illinois, but not without showing some serious fight, taking the match to a fifth and final set, in which it lost, 15-11.

Head coach Bond Shymansky called a time-out with his team leading 23-21 in the first set, aware of what was at stake.

“In that exact moment, we talked about the same thing we talked about in every time-out.” Shymansky said.

He said he tried to boil down what each individual player will do in the next play to get the point.

The Hawkeyes took the set to six match points before eventually taking the win at 30-28.

After the strong outing in the first set, the Hawkeyes struggled mightily against the front wall of the Illini. Illinois is currently fourth in the Big Ten in total blocks and averages 2.54 blocks per set.

The Illini accumulated 19 total in this match — including 4 in the second set, which the Illini won, 25-13.

Shymansky said the problem in the second set was poor passing, which allowed the Illini to anticipate where the attack would come from and set up a block.

“Going into the match, we knew Illinois was a great blocking team,” said senior Alessandra Dietz. “When we’re passing well, our offense is designed to find holes.”

Dietz said the team would take the offensive success they had tonight and use it to build into rest of the season.

But for as much as the Hawkeyes struggled in the second set, the passing turned around and the players found the holes as they stormed back to take the fourth set, 25-19, after dropping the third.
The Hawkeyes weren’t blocked at all in that fourth set.

“I think our team looked really good at times,” said freshman Taylin Alm, who tallied 10 kills in the game. ”We just need to finish through to the end.”

However, in the fifth set, with the lights on the seats dimmed and the lights on the court shining brighter than they had all match, Shymansky said his team was nervous especially following the turn, when the Hawkeyes were up 8-5.

They were blocked twice in the fifth set, which only runs to 15 points.

Despite the bright spots in the game — which included a season high 18 kills from Lauren Brobst — Shymansky said the team must get over those nerves in close games. He said he will ramp up the intensity on his players in practice to make sure those nerves stay down in the close game situations.

He said how they respond in those moments will define them as a team, especially in Big Ten play.

“I’m not about moral victories,” Shymansky said. “We can show progress, we can talk about progress, but we need to win.”


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