March 24, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa volleyball team will compete in 10 home matches on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and 10 away matches against conference opponents in 2014, as released Monday by the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes play home and away matches against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Maryland in 2014, and take on Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers, Indiana and Purdue one time each.
"The Big Ten conference slate will be a tremendous challenge, it is for every Big Ten program," first-year head coach Bond Shymansky said. "We love that every match and moment will be huge. Every opponent we face across the net will be top notch. I'm looking forward to that challenge, our staff is and I know our team is. No one will see us coming, and it's great to be an unexpected challenger."
Maryland and Rutgers will be competing in their first volleyball season as part of the conference in the fall. Shymansky has had experiences playing both teams at their respective venues in his coaching career and believes that could be an advantage for the Hawkeyes.
"I'm probably one of the few coaches in the Big Ten now that has played at Maryland and Rutgers multiple times," Shymansky said. "I'm fully familiar with their teams, programs and venues. It is certainly going to be comfortable to me but I don't play the game, I coach it. I think everyone in the league will have a learning curve with those teams and with those places. We're looking forward to that. It's a new adventure for a lot of teams and it gets us to different places that Big Ten teams have not typically been before. I think it will be an eye-opening experience for all the new teams. It should be a lot of fun."
The Big Ten is the most dominant volleyball conference in the country. Eight league teams were ranked or receiving votes in the final 2013 AVCA Division I Coaches Poll and seven appeared in the top 16, which marks the most among all conferences.
Throughout the season, 10 of the 12 conference teams were ranked or received votes. The league tied a record as eight teams earned berths to the NCAA Championship field and seven advanced to the top 16. A conference-leading 13 Big Ten volleyball players were selected as AVCA Division I All-Americans and four received first-team distinction.
No. 2 Penn State and No. 12 Wisconsin battled for the NCAA Championship. The Nittany Lions won their fifth national title in the last seven years and their sixth overall with a 3-1 win over the Badgers. Penn State's sixth title tied Stanford for the most in NCAA history.
UI volleyball finished 11th in 2013 with a 2-18 Big Ten record. The Hawkeyes recorded two wins over Indiana in five sets -- at home on Oct. 19 and on the road on Nov. 22 -- and narrowly fell to then-ranked No. 8 Minnesota 3-2 at home on Oct. 5.
Shymansky and his staff have been busy changing the style of Iowa volleyball since being named head coach on Jan. 31. He is excited to debut the new Hawkeye volleyball culture in front of a home crowd in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this fall.
"We'll certainly be playing volleyball with a new tempo and a new style," Shymansky said. "I have a specific vision for how we can build success with that style. The fans are going to see us win. We need to win and that is what we're going to strive to do. They're going to see us compete with a run and gun mentality. It should be a lot of fun for them."