Sept. 25, 2013
Iowa trails Illinois and Northwestern 13-51 and 26-37-1, respectively, in all-time meetings. The last time the Hawkeyes defeated the Illini was on Oct. 14, 2005 by a score of 3-0 (30-27, 30-26, 35-33), and Iowa's last win over Northwestern occurred on Oct. 23, 2009. The Hawkeyes topped the Wildcats in three sets, 25-23, 27-25, 25-21.
Hawkeye volleyball fans can keep up with the team on the road through Gametracker and play-by-play audio with announcer Jeremy Meyer at hawkeyesports.com. Live video of Friday night's match at Illinois is available at fightingillini.com. Saturday night's match at Northwestern will be streamed live at by the Big Ten Digital Network and can be viewed on BTN.com or through the BTN2Go application.
Iowa volleyball head coach Sharon Dingman recorded the 400th victory of her coaching career when the Hawkeyes defeated Milwaukee in a 3-2, five-set thriller on Sept. 17 in Milwaukee, Wis. Dingman is currently in her 23rd season as a head coach and her 6th season at the helm of the Iowa program. The win marks her 64th with the Hawkeyes.
Senior libero Bethany Yeager remains in third all-time with 1,750 career digs. The top two spots are held by Janet Moylan (1987-90) and Emily Hiza (2005-08), who compiled 1,931 and 1,929 career digs, respectively. Senior setter Nikki Dailey continues to occupy the sixth spot all-time with 2,798 career assists. Dailey is also two service aces from entering the all-time standings. Junior outside hitter Alex Lovell currently ranks 18th with 883 career kills.
A LOOK AT THE ILLINI
Illinois brings a 4-6 overall mark and a No. 24 national ranking into week one of Big Ten play. Their roster is made up of six freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors, and two seniors. The Illini are led by fifth-year head coach Kevin Hambly and he is assisted by Dan Conners and Jayme Gergen. Jocelynn Birks leads the team with 155 kills (3.88 per set), Maddie Mayers has a team-most 54 blocks (1.46 per set), and Liz McMahon has a team-high 11 service aces (0.28 per set). Alexis Viliunas has dished out a team-most 386 assists (9.65 per set), while Jennifer Beltran has a team-high 170 digs (4.25 per set). As a team, Illinois averages 11.6 kills per set and owns an attack percentage of .185.
CHECKING IN WITH THE WILDCATS
Northwestern owns an 8-4 overall mark heading into week one of Big Ten action. The Wildcats are led by 14th-year head coach Keylor Chan, associate head coach Kirstine Jensen, and assistant coach Scott Leserman. The roster is comprised of six freshmen, three sophomores, five juniors, and one senior. Stephanie Holthus paces the team in kills with 188 (4.18 per set), Caleigh Ryan leads the squad with 448 assists (11.79), and Samantha Paffen has a team-most 40 blocks (0.89 per set). Caroline Niedospial leads the team in digs with 202 (4.49 per set) and service aces with 15 (0.33 per set). Northwestern averages 13.4 kills per set and has a .251 attack percentage thus far in 2013.
The Hawkeyes head into Big Ten action ranked ninth overall with a 9-3 (.750) record. As a team, Iowa leads the conference in digs with 852 (17.04 per set), and is fifth in service aces with 75 (1.50 per set). Libero Bethany Yeager tops the Big Ten charts in digs with 228 (4.56 per set), while outside hitter Alex Lovell is eighth in kills with 189 (3.78 per set) and points with 205.5 (4.11 per set).
According to the most recent release of NCAA statistics on Sept. 23, Iowa ranks 14th nationally in digs per set (17.04), 55th in match win-loss percentage (.750), and 69th in service aces per set (1.5). Alex Lovell is 67th in the kills per set category (3.78) and 96th in points per set (4.11). Bethany Yeager is also 69th with a 4.56 digs per set average.
In the most recent release of the AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll on Sept. 23, a total of eight Big Ten teams were present. Penn State led the way securing the No. 1 spot, while No. 9 Minnesota and No. 10 Michigan made the top 10. No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 15 Michigan State, No. 20 Purdue, and No. 24 Illinois also appeared in the poll results following week four of regular season play. Wisconsin received votes for the second week in a row, but did not make the cut.
A trio of Hawkeyes recorded a double-double in the first 12 matches of the 2013 season. Outside hitter Alex Lovell has recorded a total of seven this season, posting 10 or more kills and 10 or more digs. Also notching seven double-doubles this season is setter Alyssa Klostermann. She has earned each of her double-doubles in the assists and digs categories. Fellow setter Nikki Dailey has a total of four double-doubles in the season thus far also breaking into double digits in assists and digs.
TARGETING THE TOP
The Hawkeyes have defeated a ranked team in four of Dingman's five seasons. Iowa will have plenty of opportunities to continue that trend, as nine of its 2013 opponents appear in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Iowa's top 25 victories since 2008 include: vs. No. 18 Wisconsin (3-0, 2008); vs. No. 18 Michigan State (3-0, 2009); vs. No. 16 Michigan (3-1, 2010); at No. 12 Purdue (3-0, 2012).
NOTHING BUT THE BEST
Iowa became the sixth college team in the country to receive a Taraflex Sport M Plus floor on Sept. 19. The portable playing surface, that lays on top of the basketball court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, has been the Olympic volleyball surface of choice since 1976. The Hawkeyes played on their new floor for the first time against Iowa State on Sept. 21.
ALIVE IN FIVE
Hawkeye volleyball owns a perfect 3-0 record in five set matches this season. The team's five set wins occurred against Wofford on Aug. 30, Youngstown State on Aug. 31 and Milwaukee on Sept. 17.
Rachael Bedell and Alyssa Klostermann were named to the Hawkeye Challenge All-Tournament team for their efforts on the court in Iowa's four home matches on Sept. 13-14. Others earning all-tournament recognition this season include: Alessandra Dietz (Chanticleer Invitational and Valpo Popcorn Classic) and Alex Lovell (Valpo Popcorn Classic). Dietz was also named most valuable player of the Chanticleer Invitational.
Senior libero Bethany Yeager earned the first Big Ten weekly honor of her career when she was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 2. She helped the Hawkeyes accomplish a 3-0 mark and Chanticleer Invitational championship opening weekend. Yeager paced the team in digs in each match tallying 26 against Wofford, 30 against Youngstown State and 23 against Coastal Carolina. Yeager's award marks Iowa's first Defensive Player of the Week honor since Christina Meister received the nod in 2009.
LINK UP WITH THE HAWKEYES
To keep up with everything Iowa volleyball, like University of Iowa Volleyball on Facebook and follow @IowaVolleyball on Twitter. Be sure to also follow the team's new live Twitter feed, @IowaVB_Live, for more frequent in-match tweets, play-by-play, statistics and more. Don't forget to use #IowaVB.