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Hawkeyes travel to Ohio State

BY KYLE MANN | NOVEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa volleyball team won four matches in a row for the first time since 1994, but after dropping two straight, the Hawkeyes will travel to Ohio State today looking forward to finishing the season strong.

The 2014 season holds only four more matches, beginning with the No. 20 Buckeyes. After being unable to avenge early season losses to Penn State and Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes would love nothing more than to steal one on the road in Columbus from a team that swept them on Oct. 3.

“We’ll watch a lot of film working on stuff from last weekend or reviewing last time we played them, so we can adapt our play to better take on what they’re giving us,” Julianne Blomberg said. “Knowing how far we’ve come from the beginning of the season, I don’t know if it was a true testament of who we are the first time.”

Anybody who’s seen the volleyball team play from August to today knows this team has made drastic improvements. But after dropping matches to the No. 6 Nittany Lions and No. 4 Badgers, Bond Shymansky’s Hawkeyes are running short on second-time opponents upon which to demonstrate their growth.

Shymansky believes that taking back a victory would be another something to hold on to from this season.

“Our group is clearly improving; we showed that in the first set against Wisconsin. We’re just struggling a little bit to be consistent with our improvement,” he said. “But there are signs of great volleyball that are happening along the way. It’s something our team can have as a goal or target; going and winning at Ohio State is something our program hasn’t done in a while.”

Shymansky knows his team is feeling a bit of a buzzkill, but so is Ohio State, and he believes his team has developed the mentality to be the team to right themselves.

“Anytime you lose, you lose momentum. But we haven’t lost belief or faith,” Shymansky said. “Ohio State is clearly a team that is also a little bit rattled after losing at Michigan, so I think it’s a good opportunity to go there and steal a victory.”

The Buckeyes — standing 18-10 overall, 9-7 in the Big Ten, good for sixth in the standings — have lost two in a row to Michigan and Illinois and have also dropped four of their last six. Though the team is struggling, it is still nationally ranked and has talented players who are surely hungry to get a win as well.

Senior Erin Sekinger is 11th in the Big Ten in kills with 3.22 per set, and Taylor Sherwin is eighth in assists with 9.61.

Shymansky could be right in seeing a favorable matchup, however, as Ohio State doesn’t stand out as a team in any one category. In fact, it is in the lower half of the conference in hitting percentage, opponent hitting percentage, blocks, and digs.

So Iowa could get out of its slump on Wednesday, but the Hawkeyes are trying not to think about it like that.

“You never like to lose, but that was No. 4 and No. 6 in the country, so it’s not the end of the world,” Alessandra Dietz said. “That was a tough point in the schedule, and we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we’re not going to let those losses keep affecting us. We’re more excited about this week and ready to go get Ohio State.”

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


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