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Iowa volleyball sends off five seniors

BY KYLE MANN | DECEMBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Before the Iowa volleyball team took the floor against Michigan State on Nov. 28, the program spent time honoring its seniors.

The Senior Night ceremonies began with each of Iowa’s five seniors being honored before the crowd, accompanied by her parents as she walked to midcourt to meet head coach Bond Shymansky.

Although Shymansky spent only one year with Alessandra Dietz, Alex Lovell, Kari Mueller, Erin Leppek, and Emily Yanny, he spoke glowingly about the seniors and how they operated in a program undergoing some transition.

“They really had hard choices to make. The choice they had was: are they going to buy in for this short window of time and give everything they’ve got, or will they shrug their shoulders, and go away, and say, ‘It’s not for me’ or ‘This isn’t my coach,’ ” Shymanksy said. “They made the right choice, and I’m super appreciative of that as a new coach inside the program.”

He said the team had a ceremony later that night after the postgame showers and conferences, but that isn’t the only way the players will be remembered.

In fact, besides the mentoring of the younger players that will be remembered and passed down for years to come, two of them will go down in the Hawkeye record books.

Dietz had a .294 attack percentage in her final match, a slight blemish towards her .347 mark for the season, but nonetheless exited her career as Iowa’s all-time leader in attack percentage. She broke the previous record of .276, which had belonged to Jen Barcus and had stood for eight years.

Additionally, she claimed the single-match attack percentage record with a .882 performance and is 11th in school history with 274 blocks.

Dietz said she will most fondly remember all the opportunities she had to play in front of the home crowd.

“I’m definitely going to miss playing in Carver-Hawkeye Arena,” Dietz said. “It’s just awesome to be able to get pumped up and excited with my teammates over a point, to have all of the Hawkeye fans, and playing at home is just something that I’ll really miss. It was so weird having it be the last time tonight.”

Lovell’s name will also exist in the record books for the foreseeable future — her 1,279 career kills ranks her ninth in the program.

Both will leave the program as memorable figures from Michigan.

“It’s been awesome to have Dietz with me,” Lovell said. ‘We shared a bunch of laughs over the years. We’re not the most serious group, but to have her by my side has been like that little piece of home. Being able to have that family here has been really nice.”

Along with Dietz and Lovell, Leppek also joined the Iowa program from Michigan, and the trio cherished their final sets together. At one point in the match, the three seniors formed Shymasnky’s front row, which Dietz said resonated with her in the moment.

Mueller was one of only two Iowa City natives on the roster this season, and she had the role in her final season as a player who Shymansky could look to help with ball control and getting into system.
Yanny played sparingly this season, but she began her career strong before suffering a season-ending injury as a sophomore in 2012. Her leadership, as well as a couple of others, off the floor is a big part of what Shymansky said made this class special.

“It’s tough sometimes when players that have had big roles, those roles can diminish,” Shymansky said. “Watching them manage that with class, dignity, and great Hawkeye spirit, that kept our team mentally and emotionally healthy. Those players understood and were still great teammates and supporters for their teammates on the court.”

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


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