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This season Iowa volleyball fans will be able to follow along with juniors Catherine Smale and Emily Hiza as they blog during the season. Both student-athletes will discuss things like upcoming games, road trips and what it's like being a student-athlete at the University of Iowa.

Most recent blogs

  • Catherine Smale -- November 7, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- October 30, 2007
  • Catherine Smale -- October 23, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- October 16, 2007
  • Catherine Smale -- October 9, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- October 2, 2007
  • Catherine Smale -- September 25, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- September 18, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- September 13, 2007
  • Catherine Smale -- September 5, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- August 27, 2007
  • Catherine Smale -- August 24, 2007
  • Emily Hiza -- August 24, 2007
  • Catherine Smale


    November 7, 2007
    This week was kind of a crazy week in that both of our matches were played mid-week and on the road. This was the case because we were lucky enough to be televised on the Big Ten Network for both matches.

    We flew to Minnesota on Tuesday for our Wednesday night game and then immediately flew back after our match. Megan Schipper put up some good numbers and led the team in kills. Unfortunately it wasn't enough, as we lost in three. We got home early enough to see some of the creative costumes students wore for Halloween!

    We then had our second session of Lil' Spikers Saturday morning. This is always so much fun for our team, because the kids are so cute and it's a nice break from regular practice and competition. We have one more session next weekend and then they'll perform their skills at halftime during our Saturday night match. Unfortunately, we won't be able to witness it because we'll be in the locker room, but I'm sure they'll do great!

    Our second match came on Monday night at Michigan. We knew they would be looking for revenge after we beat them on our home court in an exhilarating five-game match earlier in the season. To be honest, we didn't play our greatest, as we lost in three.

    Our week on the road continues as we head to Purdue and Indiana on Thursday. Wish us luck for a long-awaited victory!

    GO HAWKS!!

    Emily Hiza


    October 30, 2007
    Well, we are over half way through our Big Ten season and it's been a bumpy road. We had very high expectations coming into this season and the record hasn't turned out quite like we wanted.

    A weekend of playing against Ohio State and Penn State is never a walk in the park... and this weekend was no different. Both teams are very reputable and have outstanding athletes that deliver some serious heat on their hits. Its games like those when I absolutely LOVE playing defense. I appreciate every touch I can get on the ball, even if it does sting just a little bit.

    We now head into an interesting next couple of weeks. Playing on weekdays is always rough for a student-athlete and trying to work around classes. Tuesday night we head to Minnesota for a Wednesday game, come home for a couple of days to practice and leave Sunday to play Michigan on Monday.

    Both matches are on the Big Ten Network so make sure you tune in!

    Resilience is a great quality of our team and we still have an optimistic outlook for the remainder of the season.

    GO HAWKS!

    Catherine Smale


    October 23, 2007
    This past weekend we made our way to East Lansing, MI and Evanston, IL to take on Michigan State and Northwestern. Unfortunately we didn't come home with any wins, but there were definitely some shining moments! Kremer and Schipper continued their streaks of strong performances as they led the team in kills in both games.

    We left Thursday afternoon by chartered flight, and it was quite an experience! It was an extremely windy day and the takeoff and landing were kind of scary. On one side of the plane all you could see was land, while the other side just stared out straight to the sky.

    After our game on Friday we flew to Evanston and were welcomed with a shiny black charter bus. Upon entering, everyone's mouths dropped. Flat screen TV's decorated the walls and black leather seats lined the aisle. It was awesome!

    The bus ride from Midway to the hotel was a little longer than expected, due to the fact that our bus was so tall. The bus couldn't fit under some of the bridges in downtown Evanston on the way to the hotel, so we had to take a few detours along the way. The four hour bus ride home on Saturday went quite a bit faster though and it was fun watching highlights of the field hockey team's win over Ohio State on the Big Ten Network!

    Although our traveling was luxurious, it will be nice to be home again this weekend as we take on Ohio State and Penn State for the second half of Big Ten play. Hope to see you there!

    GO HAWKS!

    Emily Hiza


    October 16, 2007
    Pink. That was the color splattered across Carver-Hawkeye Arena Saturday as we attacked breast cancer. We've been working for a couple of months now to get donations from friends, families, businesses and such to donate to Holden Cancer Research Center.

    Donations made, we stormed the court against Wisconsin decked out in pink warm ups, pink socks and I got to wear a pink jersey that we're auctioning off and it currently just hit the $300 mark! The awareness of breast cancer was the theme of the night, but the awareness of the Hawkeyes also became very apparent to the Badgers. We played extremely well Saturday, bouncing off of some pretty flat play against Illinois the night before.

    Laura Kremer once again put up some outstanding numbers against a very formidable opponent (18 kills and a crazy amount of blocks and great touches on hits). Taking a game against a team like Wisconsin is nothing to be ashamed of, but we have a vision of our season and we want the "W" on the record. Crazy things are happening in the Big Ten; Illinois beat Minnesota in Minneapolis Saturday night for a huge upset to add even more spice to the season and shows anything can happen.

    We now know the level of play we're capable of, and our goal from now on is starting AND ending a game playing at that level. That's what it takes to beat teams in this conference. Consistency is our new goal. We head to Michigan State and Northwestern this weekend and plan to come out guns ablazin'. GO HAWKS!

    Catherine Smale


    October 9, 2007
    This past weekend we made our way to Penn State and Ohio State for our first away conference play. Flying by chartered plane, we arrived in State College Thursday night. This is always one of my favorite trips, merely because of the transportation. When we charter, the bus drops us off right next to the plane and we literally climb the steps, pick a seat, and take off! It's especially nice coming home the night of a match and being home before midnight!

    In our match Friday, we learned pretty quickly why Penn State is ranked third in the nation and has been the reigning Big Ten champs the past few years. We lost in three, but definitely had our shining moments. One of those, surprisingly, was our blocking. It's pretty amazing to out-block a team whose front row stands, on average, over 6'2". Our front row barely averages six feet, so this was quite an accomplishment! We're hoping to put up a better fight when we play them at North Carver at the end of the month.

    After our match, we flew straight to Columbus for our match against Ohio State. We learned the night before, the Buckeyes had lost to Minnesota in five games. Knowing this, we prepared ourselves for a battle. We were ready for another upset after our win against 11th-ranked Michigan last weekend. We came up a little short, losing in four games. Kremer continued to shine, hitting a .364. Grabbing some Chipotle, we hopped on the plane and arrived in Cedar Rapids just before 11 p.m.

    In other news, Becky Walters had her knee surgery on Thursday and is recovering well. We wish we could have been home to be with her when she came out, but her nice mother made the trip to care for her! I'm so excited to be home this weekend when we play Illinois and Wisconsin. Remember fans, make sure to wear pink in support of our "Attacking Breast Cancer" match Saturday against the Badgers. Hope to see you there! GO HAWKS!

    Emily Hiza


    October 2, 2007
    If I had to summarize this weekend in one word, it would be "amazing". Coming off of a hard loss against Minnesota the team began to realize how incredibly close we are to beating these ranked teams and that we deserve to win. We battled in the first game against the Gophers, but couldn't push the last 10 points out. Coming out of the locker room and on to the court for game three, it was in our minds that we could play this level of ball. And we did, but failed to execute those last few points once again and lost 32-30.

    After this loss I believe the team had a breakthrough. We were capable of playing a high level of volleyball, but it was going to take everyone playing on this level together. We had a very formable opponent on Friday night in No. 11 Michigan and dared to push ourselves to a higher altitude than we had played at before. Losing the first two games wasn't as disheartening as one might think; goodness knows we had plenty of first hand experience at the two-game-comeback. We were playing well, but beating ourselves with just a few little mistakes. Starting with game three it was our goal to stop beating ourselves, to eliminate just a couple mistakes each and we knew we were capable of the huge upset.

    Laura Kremer was playing out of her mind, putting up blocks like brick walls and killing every ball she got set. Stacy Vitali gave the Wolverines a new look on our rightside and had a match changing performance in the fifth game. Megan Eskew came in to play defense on the right side for the first time all season and saved so many balls from becoming points for Michigan. We were able to pull it out because every single person out on the court was firing on six cylinders. Our opponents didn't know who to focus on or what to expect because we had the option of going to anyone for a point. It was a new level of focus for our team, very synergistic, and from this win we learned HOW to win and HOW to finish a game. It was nice to finally stand in front of the crowd after winning and sing the fight song.

    Coach was kind enough to give us Saturday off, and we got to experience our first football game in its entirety. Most of us didn't know what to think about this phenomenon called "tailgating". We'd never seen so much black and gold congregated around one area. Even though the result of the game wasn't what a Hawk fan would hope for, the experience of the game was unforgettable. We're now rested for the trip to Penn State and Ohio State this weekend!

    Catherine Smale


    September 25, 2007
    After a long pre-conference schedule, we finally opened up our Big Ten season this weekend. It didn't start on the best note, though.

    In Thursday's practice, Megan Schipper fell wrong and suffered an injury. Then in the first game against Indiana on Friday, Becky Walters went down with an injury too! This was quite the blow to our team, suddenly being without two starters.

    I thought we handled the adversity pretty well. We went five games with Indiana and lost the heartbreaking fifth game 15-13. We were very lucky to have such great fans that night supporting us. There were a few area school teams that came to cheer us on and we were more than happy to sign some posters and t-shirts after the game. Even with the loss, the girls were so excited to get autographs. It's so fun to have such loyal fans.

    Saturday's game against Purdue was a little shorter in time, but the overwhelming consensus was that it felt a lot better than the loss on Friday. Everyone played their hearts out. Katie Wessels had quite the debut! She led the team in kills (11) and had two aces. Kiley Fister and Emily Hiza also played outstanding on defense.

    This week is a little different for us. We play Minnesota at home on Wednesday, a match that will be televised on the Big Ten network. Then we play Michigan on Friday. Both teams are ranked in the top 25. We're hoping for the best in both our matches this week and the recovery of Megan and Becky. Hope to see you at the games.

    GO HAWKS!

    Emily Hiza


    September 18, 2007
    What a great way to end the pre-conference schedule and head into Big Ten season. We had a fantastic weekend overall and really started playing like a legitimate team. We opened up with Texas-Arlington Friday night and started off the game a little slow. After losing the opener we put the axe to the grind and got down to business. We got our middle blockers running and swinging and Becky started cranking some phenomenal hits. Our block began to get comfortable next to each other and the defense started to set up behind it. Our fans were AMAZING at this game. The Wings have some great new cheers and a special shout out to the gymnasts for feeling the Hawkeye Spirit and supporting us. It makes all the difference!

    It's been a while since we played the early game on Saturday. Smalz (Catherine Smale) made her debut on the court since her injury against Ball State and it was good to see her out there again! Although much to all of our surprise, it was on the right side instead of the left side. That's the great thing about this team, every player is so versatile that we can play with our lineup. Catherine started looking like Smalz and her hitting percentage (.385) reflected that. We swept the Cardinals, which was refreshing because we've been having a tough time winning the three games.

    On Saturday night we were playing for the championship title against the College of Charleston. Our outside hitters had an all-star night, and a special kudos to our fiery little freshman Megan Eskew for playing out of her mind and being the MVP for the tournament. Schipper and Laura Kremer were also huge for our offense. And I put up the final kill, which was the highlight of my offensive weekend! It's a great feeling to head into the Big Ten after playing well and winning as a result of that. It's time to cinch up and get ready for the real ride! GO HAWKS!

    Emily Hiza


    September 13, 2007
    Well, this weekend turned into more of a battle-to-the-death than a tournament. We had some TOUGH games and put up a tenacious fight. We started off the weekend against fellow Iowans on Friday night. Drake played outstanding against us and it was a tooth and nail fight for four games. Feeling relieved and optimistic, we headed into Saturday knowing that we had a challenge we would have to rise to.

    There's no rivalry like Iowa State-Iowa. I had yet to beat Iowa State in my two years at Iowa and this year wasn't the year to do it either. You could feel the animosity in the air the entire match. This one was for more than just the win, it was for pride. It seemed like whatever we threw at them, they had the answer and then some. It was a deflating loss but we had to recover for LSU later that night.

    LSU was one of the most fun matches we have played all season. We were playing great, they were playing great; it was just great volleyball. We're still a very young team (at one point there were five freshmen on the court!) and we need to learn how to close out a game. It seems there's a curse on the last two points of the match during the fifth game, and it's time for us to un-hex ourselves. Although we lost that match, it was nothing to be ashamed of.

    This weekend put a chip on our shoulders that will hopefully fuel us into our last weekend of pre-conference matches and into the Big Ten season. We have a lot to prove to our opponents and the season is still young!

    GO HAWKS!

    Catherine Smale


    September 5, 2007
    As much as I would love to write about all the exciting and funny things that happened on the successful trip to Colorado, I didn't attend! After getting injured last weekend, the coaches and I thought it would be best for me to stay home and rehab as much as possible. They probably thought my boot would take a little too long to clear airport security!

    I live with Kiley Fister, Emily Hiza, and our Manager Felicia Booth, so it got pretty lonely after the team left Thursday morning. I'm very lucky to have other friends outside of volleyball who were so willing to keep me company when my roommates were gone. Although I wasn't with the team physically, I arranged my day so I could listen to all of the matches on hawkeyesports.com. It was pretty tough staying behind, but my teammates made sure to check up on me and keep me updated. Kiley and Emily called me after every match, and I received numerous text messages from the rest of my team. I also received encouraging texts from Cindy, which was really nice.

    From what I heard, Emily had quite the crowd cheering her on! I've been lucky in that we've played many tournaments in the Chicago area, but for Emily, this was the first time she got to play at home in an Iowa uniform. Along with Emily's homecoming, Laura Kremer also celebrated her birthday over the weekend. And what a weekend she had! Her standout play earned her a spot on the all-tournament Team, along with Megan Schipper. Just by looking at the stats, you can see how much this team is improving. Our hitting percentage has risen tremendously and our defense is really picking up.

    All I can think about right now is that "things can only get better". My body is feeling better, our team is improving, and I think this team is ready to surprise some people. We're hoping to do that this weekend as we make our way to Des Moines to play at Drake. Along with Drake we'll face LSU and Iowa State. We're confident we'll be adding some more wins to our record as we head into the Big Ten season. Until next time...GO HAWKS!

    Emily Hiza


    August 29 , 2007
    A new season has begun and a new team has taken the floor at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The opening game against No. 17 BYU proved to the second largest crowd in Iowa Volleyball history that this year's team is here and demands respect. I love the feeling of anticipation before the game, the scouting and the butterflies. Being back on the court surrounded by the amazingly crazy Wings student section reminded me why I love this game so much. We played outstanding in the first two games; nothing could get through our block in the front row. Becky and Kremer were putting up brick walls and it made playing defense easy. After going into the locker room for halftime, we became victims of the comeback curse. It was a huge blow to lose Smalz in the match. I've played next to her my entire career and she's a super-threat on the court. We struggled to get through game three. It was a bit chaotic and the results displayed this. In games four and five our freshmen really stepped up to the plate. Megan Eskew filled Smalz's big shoes (kind of an oxymoron) and handled the pressure well. Somehow we just couldn't finish it, and ended up with a disappointing "shoulda-coulda-woulda".

    Redemption is sweet though, and going into the game against Marquette that's exactly what we had on our minds. We had a few line-up switches, but we really acclimated to them well. Becky, Laura and Stacy really clinched game four with their impenetrable blocking. And Signe got a proper welcome to the court by drawing the game point serve not just once, but twice! Proving the talent of our freshmen class, she aced game three out and finished game four by serving six in a row. It was an end to a weekend that left us redeemed but not satisfied, with that chip on our shoulder and still much more to prove.

    Now we go into the next two days of practice preparing for Colorado. I get to go home!!! I am thankful to my coaches beyond words for the opportunity to have all of my family and friends see me play. I've been patiently waiting for this for two years. Three more chances to prove ourselves, three more days to prepare for them. I can't wait to see Northern Colorado smothered in Black and Gold... GO HAWKS!

    Catherine Smale


    August 24 , 2007
    Well, pre-season is winding down and I can't believe I have only one more year of these two straight weeks of two-a-days! But in all honesty, this year's pre-season has been the best of my three years here for so many reasons. Although I've been lucky enough to see the court my past two years, my role on and off the court is a lot different now. Finally being an upperclassmen means my leadership role has greatly increased. This year we have one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and six freshmen. Acclimating that many freshmen to a whole new team, coach, playing style, and location can really be tough but this freshmen class has done nothing but exceed my expectations. They're all very competitive which makes practices so much more beneficial and fun. In my opinion, a competitive team is a winning team. There's no question that anyone on this team can step on the court and play immediately. There's definitely an awareness that no one's position is "safe" and it can change daily. I've seen the work ethic of this team improve and I'm excited to get this season started to prove how hard we have been working.

    This is also the hottest pre-season we have had in a while. Carver is not air-conditioned, much to many people's surprise, so it can get pretty hot in there. We have managers and trainers armed with "swiffers" to mop up the sweat from the dives, rolls, and the mere dripping that surrounds our practices. So our coach pulled a few strings and was able to reserve Solon High School's gym, an air-conditioned gym, for our afternoon sessions. I can't explain how much of a difference this has made on both our bodies and minds. Everyone looked forward to practicing! While the air-conditioning was really nice, it was important to acclimate our bodies to Carver, for game's sake. So, this past week we had all of our practices at Carver. I can't help but think that playing in Carver puts a little shock in our competition and ultimately gives us an advantage. We're hoping that will be the case when we take the court this weekend in the annual Hawkeye Challenge.

    Our first match is Saturday at 7 p.m. against BYU, the 17th ranked team in the country. We complete the tournament Sunday at 2 p.m. against Marquette University. I've checked the weather and the cooler temperatures mean I'd better see you all at North Carver! Go Hawks!!!

    Emily Hiza


    August 24 , 2007
    The season is here! After 16 days of pre-season and who knows how many hours of practice, we open our non-conference schedule this weekend with Brigham Young and Marquette. It's been an incredible journey to get here, both on and off the court.

    We knew before practice even began that the freshmen were going to be good, and they've surpassed our expectations. The upper classmen served as hosts to the rookies during pre-season, which seemed much more enjoyable than spending all those nights in a hotel room. I took it upon myself to introduce them to the frequent-buyer-club at the local snow-cone stand, which now displays an Iowa Volleyball poster! They've made practice extremely competitive and contributed to the most rapid progression of an Iowa volleyball team since I've been here. Not to mention, they're quite a witty and funny bunch as well.

    One of the most enjoyable bonding experiences that we shared was going to the ropes course one afternoon. We did some goal setting then moved on to some team bonding games and activities. Little did Megan Eskew know that I'd be tackling her during a game of baseball so she couldn't run the bases. We're not sure who won that game because so many people ending up on top of the runner or on top of the ball. Next we cinched up our harnesses, strapped on the helmets, and began our ascent to the high ropes. Not only did every single person on our team get to the top without any hesitation, but we became the first group under Coach Fredrick to complete the course without anyone falling off. "Climb-on!" We finished the day by zip-lining back to solid ground and a proud "GO HAWKS!" cheer. We definitely made memories that will last a lifetime.

    So here we are, one practice left before we officially start our season. We hope to see you out on Saturday night to cheer us on!

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