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Iowa defeats Maryland, drops match to Michigan State on Senior Night

BY KYLE MANN | DECEMBER 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa volleyball team had a pair of matches over the Thanksgiving break, defeating Maryland Nov. 26 and falling to Michigan State in the season finale Nov. 28.

The match with the Terrapins was a five-set showdown, as Maryland arrived in Iowa City to avenge its sweep by the Hawkeyes at home on Halloween.

Iowa claimed the first set, but when Maryland stole the next two in fairly convincing fashion, doubt began to infect the crowd in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa wasn’t to be beaten, however, and the Hawks won the fourth set, 25-15, to force a tiebreaker.

Despite trailing in that final set, 10-7, Lauren Brobst and Julianne Blomberg powered the Hawkeyes to not only come back to tie the match at 10 but to battle through ties at 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 before winning the set and the match, 17-15.

Things didn’t turn out so well against the Spartans, which was Senior Night for the team’s five seniors: Alessandra Dietz, Alex Lovell, Kari Mueller, Erin Leppek, and Emily Yanny.

The first set saw the Spartans take an early lead, and despite a brief comeback effort with the help of Lovell, Iowa was never able to regain footing to threaten the lead.

The seniors would have liked to go out with a win, but Lovell said the night wasn’t all bad.

“It’s bittersweet,” Lovell said. “A loss sucks, but to be able to do it with the competitive spirit we had, and with this group of girls and everything we’ve been through, it’s a real blessing.”

And they did compete; the Hawkeyes began the second set firing on all cylinders. A pair of kills by Dietz helped the team capture an early 3-2 lead, and resilient defense carried it to a 10-7 advantage.

The Hawkeyes led for most of the set, but surrendered the lead for the first time at 20-19. Things happened quickly from there, and Iowa was behind 23-20 as the Spartans approached set point.
Michigan State captured the final 2 points of the set and won, 25-20.

“Those tight moments at the end, that’s when we need every contact to be high focus and high execution,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “We let some errors get away from us and they separated there at the end of the second set.”

The third set began somewhat similarly, as Shymansky’s team jumped out to a 3-1 before disaster struck. Down 2-0 in the match, Brobst crumbled to the floor for several minutes and was helped off the court, suffering from a sprained ankle that prevented her from returning to the match.

Michigan State took advantage of that and roared back to take a 5-3 lead. The Hawkeyes tied the set at 5, but missing their leading attacker, were unable to ever make a run to truly threaten the Spartans.

When it was all over, Iowa fell 25-15 and dropped its final match of 2014. Despite the loss, the seniors cherished every moment of that final match.

“It’s pretty weird, it’s sad, it’s … I can’t really even wrap my head around it yet,” Dietz said. “I’m just glad that out team really put up a fight tonight. It was a really good example of what we’ve worked for, my four years with this senior class, and especially this season since the coaching change what my teammates have worked for. I was really proud of them.”

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


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