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Klostermann key to Iowa's success

BY KYLE MANN | OCTOBER 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Alyssa Klostermann entered the season as the incumbent starter as Iowa’s setter, and she led the team in assists entering an Oct. 3 match against Ohio State. That’s what made her sudden removal from the starting lineup so puzzling, but the sophomore has now returned to the lineup and has a large hand in the Hawkeyes’ recent surge.

Head coach Bond Shymansky made several notable tweaks that weekend to his starting lineup that had earned an 8-5 record, among them inserting freshman Kaylee Smith as setter in place of Klostermann.

Shymansky said to combat the team’s skid as it entered conference play, he was giving different players chances to show what they could do. Impressed by her performance, Shymansky simply couldn’t take her off the floor.

“Kaylee has been really consistent with her delivery. She’s locating the ball extremely well,” Shymansky said. “And it’s just like with anything; you don’t have a quarterback controversy when one quarterback can always throw the ball where it needs to go.”

Smith has played admirably, not relinquishing her starting role since taking it. All the while, however, Klostermann is still a talented player who serves an important role among the team.

Shymansky knew he needed her to be an important contributor.

“We need Alyssa on the court from a competitive environment standpoint; she adds a lot as a captain,” Shymansky said. “Our young team is still looking around, looking for leadership when we’re in those tight moments, and Alyssa can provide an extra boost in that category.”

That’s why during her absence, Klostermann wasn’t simply waiting for her chance to return to her original role. She was worked with Shymansky and his staff to return to the lineup in a modified, expanded role.

“We have Alyssa passing in serve-receive now for a couple rotations, and that’s very different from in the past, in which she’s only been setting,” Shymansky said. “It’s a different skill, not just a different role, but we trust her to do that and take care of the ball. She’s embraced it wholeheartedly, and she’s helping us win.”

Indeed, Klostermann never pouted and instead began working to prove to Shymansky that she was ready to be put back on the floor.

“I’m definitely coming in early to take more passing reps,” Klostermann said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I think it’s definitely helping, and this rotation showed this past week with the close call against Illinois and the win against Northwestern.”

With Smith and Klostermann on the floor together, as well as increased playing time for Julianne Blomberg and Kari Mueller to go along with Michelle Fugarino in the back row, the Hawkeyes feel they may have addressed some of the team’s issues that had been giving them so much trouble in Big Ten play.

First contact in serve-receive and the ensuing passing had been described as “hectic,” “frantic,” and largely not in system while Iowa dropped eight in a row, including its first seven conference matches. Now, however, that seems to be improving, and the Hawkeyes finally seem to be clicking as a result.

“It’s improved a lot,” Smith said. “We’ve got our confidence right now. We’ve got something that’s really working.”

Maybe the coaching staff had the team ready, and it was about to break out regardless. But the timing can’t be ignored. The “setters” began playing together, one in an expanded capacity, and the team happened to start playing well. It seems Shymansky, with credit to Klostermann, found and made the right adjustment.

“It’s confusing, so it’s funny to watch the other bench’s coach be like, ‘What is she doing back there?’ ” Klostermann said. “But I’m willing to do whatever I can for the team. I go back and pass, then I step in and set. Whatever helps.”

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


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