Oct. 16, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When the University of Iowa volleyball coaching staff elected to use a 6-2 offense in 2013, setters Nikki Dailey and Alyssa Klostermann quickly realized in order to achieve success, it would take not one, but two.
Unlike a 5-1, in which one setter runs the offense, a 6-2 requires two setters to function. In Iowa's offense Dailey, a senior, plays in the front row, while Klostermann, a freshman, subs in to play the back row. With both players used to calling the shots as the lone setter, they have learned to work and grow together on the court this season.
"It's crucial that we work together," Dailey said. "We split rotations so if one of us has a bad game, the team can lose even if the other setter plays well. We both have to be spot on and playing at a high level for our team to be successful. We need to be in sync with each other and pick up each other's mistakes.
"If she's having an off game, I need to go in and be that much better. If I'm having an off game, she needs to come in and make up for the mistakes I've made. For our offense to be successful, we have to be on top of our game and open with each other. I verbalize a lot of things to her and talk her through the game as much as I can. I feel like we have a good relationship in that aspect."
Recognizing that she has an invaluable opportunity to learn from and pick the brain of a three-year starter in the Big Ten Conference, Klostermann has been taking advantage of Dailey's presence and looks to her for advice.
"I definitely look up to Nikki," Klostermann said. "At the beginning of the season, she took me in and was very nice. Also from the volleyball aspect, she's very positive and likes to help me when I'm in. Whenever she has a hint or a pointer, she always offers it to me and is always there to help make me the best setter I can be.
"She has taught me to keep the team positive and make sure they move on to the next ball. We're playing a high level of volleyball and things can go wrong. As a setter, Nikki knows that you have to keep everyone positive, keep working, and everything will work out in the end."
Creating an open communication line with one another has allowed for both Dailey and Klostermann to improve at the setter position. They have quickly realized they are each other's biggest advantage.
"It has been good because she has been a very receptive player," Dailey said. "When I give her information, she uses it and takes instructive criticism well. I feel like we have a very open relationship from a communication standpoint. She's not afraid to speak to me and let me know things during the game.
"We tell each other things we see and things we don't see during a match. During time outs, we give each other cues and tell each other what we see. I try to watch out for her and make sure I have her back."
Dailey relishes the opportunity to have a fellow setter on the roster, and impact the Hawkeye volleyball program for years to come by mentoring Klostermann.
"The biggest thing I've learned from her is how to be a mentor," Dailey said. "She soaks up any information I give her and is so receptive, when she could take offense to it or think she knows it all already. She's using this situation as a learning opportunity.
"Everyone on this team is capable of handling high pressure situations, so we were in the fifth set of a five-set match and she was setting I would feel completely confident with her in. I wouldn't say, 'Put me in instead.' She has taught me how to trust my teammates, even the younger players."
The Hawkeyes resume Big Ten action on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19. Iowa faces Purdue on Friday at 7 p.m. (CT) and Indiana on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both matches will be aired live on the Big Ten Digital Network.