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Iowa volleyball fans will be able to follow along with seniors Catherine Smale and Kiley Fister, junior Megan Schipper and freshmen Joanna Giampoli as they blog about the season . All three student-athletes will discuss things like upcoming matches, road trips and what it's like being a student-athlete at the University of Iowa.

Most recent blogs

  • Catherine Smale -- Decenver 1, 2008
  • Megan Schipper -- November 11, 2008
  • Catherine Smale -- November 5, 2008
  • Kiley Fister -- October 22, 2008
  • Catherine Smale -- October 22, 2008
  • Megan Schipper -- October 17, 2008
  • Joanna Giampoli -- October 9, 2008
  • Catherine Smale -- September 29, 2008
  • Megan Schipper -- September 23, 2008
  • Joanna Giampoli -- September 16, 2008
  • Megan Schipper -- September 9, 2008
  • Catherine Smale -- September 2, 2008
  • Catherine Smale

    December 1, 2008
    The schedule for our last week of the Big Ten season was a little different this year. Instead of playing Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, we were scheduled to play Minnesota Wednesday night at home, then travel to Michigan State for a Friday night match. Although this would not allow us to be home for Thanksgiving, it would be our last week together as a team before the season ended. Coach Dingmann graciously opened her home to us for a team Thanksgiving dinner.

    Although the seniors enjoyed an amazing Senior Night the previous Friday, coming into the Minnesota match, we knew this would be our last match playing at Carver, wearing a Hawkeye uniform proudly. Going into the match against the 12th-ranked Golden Gophers, we knew we had nothing to lose. If this was going to be our last match at home, we wanted to make our fans proud.

    After losing the first set pretty handily, we came out inspired to make it 1-1 going into the locker room after the second set. At this point, we knew this was a winnable match for the Hawkeyes. We were playing the best we've played in the past three weeks and were preparing to pull a huge upset.

    After losing the third set a close 24-26, we kept our fight up and pounced on the Gophers, winning the fourth set 25-11! We knew we had the momentum going into the fifth and final set. Minnesota fought back and we battled point for point until the end. Unfortunately, we came up a little short, losing 15-13. Although we may have lost the match, I couldn't have been prouder of this team. We truly played every point like it was our last and it was my proudest moment to be a Hawkeye. We had a huge turnout for the match, and this really shows the support of the fans when they would spend the night before Thanksgiving cheering us on. I'm really going to miss this!

    With this being my last blog of my career as a Hawkeye, I'd like to thank all the fans that have supported us, win or lose. There's a reason we LOVE playing at home! Thank you, and GO HAWKS!

    Megan Schipper

    October 17, 2008
    This week we took on two ranked opponents, Illinois and Purdue, on our home court. After traveling for two weeks, the team was super excited to get back out in front of our own fans.

    Friday night we were all fired up to play Illinois, who is in second place in the Big Ten right now. In the first set, we came out with an early lead and never looked back. We won it 25-20. The second set though, Illinois came back on the court ready to go and won. Going into the locker room at break, no one on the team had let up hope. We were still tied 1-1 and knew we were going to have to play tough to defend our home court. Even so, we lost the third and fourth sets by close margins.

    After a loss on Friday, we wanted to put everything we had into upsetting Purdue. It was such a heartbreaker to lose by only two points in the first two sets, and we just didn't have the energy and power we needed to win the third set. It was a very tough loss for us because an upset would put us back in the middle of the conference pack with Wisconsin and Indiana, but it just wasn't our weekend.

    This means that Northwestern this Friday night and Wisconsin Sunday afternoon are going to be huge matches on the road for us. We beat both teams our first weekend of Big Ten play, but need to keep up our confidence levels in order to take two wins from the road this weekend. We're ready though! Since we have Saturday off from a match, our plan is to stay in Northwestern overnight and travel to Wisconsin Saturday. Once we get there, most of the players will do homework or hang out with their families. We hope to have lots of fans there because we're not far from Iowa City!

    Even with two very tough losses this weekend, we had good news because setter Kiley Fister and libero Emily Hiza were both named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District teams, which is a HUGE honor in the athletic world. Congrats you two!

    Thanks so much for all your support last weekend and we hope to see you back in Iowa City on November 21 and 22 for our last two weekend home games. Come cheer the seniors on with us! It will be their last Friday and Saturday night matches in Carver. Go Hawks!

    Catherine Smale

    November 5, 2008
    At the beginning of the week, we met as a team to establish goals for the rest of the season. Heading into the second half of the Big Ten is a whole lot different. There have been a lot of surprises in the conference so far and the competition only heightens as teams look ahead to the NCAA's. Also, every team has played each other once already, so preparation is different. Sitting at 5-7 in the Big Ten is pretty good for our team, but stepping up our game is essential if we want to have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament.

    Our first match to start the second half of the Big Ten was at Indiana. We beat the Hoosiers in five sets in Iowa City, so we knew they would be out for revenge. We came out strong, taking the first two sets. We let up a little and lost the third and fourth sets. As we entered the fifth set, we knew how important a win would be for us. We were tied with Indiana in the Big Ten, and this would put us a step ahead. Unfortunately, after being ahead most of the fifth set, we let a few points slip away along with our momentum. Losing 14-16 in the fifth set was really hard for our team and coaches to accept. We just made our road to the NCAA's a little tougher.

    The next night we played at Penn State, still ranked No. 1 in the nation. We played them really tough earlier in the season at home and they came out with a lot more fire, beating us in three sets. Playing such an elite team is great experience for our team. They are a great blocking team, so it was great practice for our hitters to be smart and hit different shots.

    Although our weekend wasn't the most successful in terms of wins, we had a lot to take away from it. After two long weekends away, we are ready to take the floor on our home court again. With two ranked teams entering our gym this weekend (Illinois and Purdue), we have a great opportunity to re-establish ourselves in the Big Ten. After the tough, emotional loss at Indiana, there's no way the Hawkeyes will be on the losing end of a close match like that again!

    Kiley Fister

    October 30, 2008
    Hi Everyone!

    I'm excited to have the opportunity to write my very first blog this week! As you may already know, the Hawkeyes won an away match at Ohio State this weekend! Overall, the team came together, as everyone did a nice job executing plays in their positions. Catherine walked away with a double-double in attacks and digs, and Schipper was right there behind her. Emily played the all-star for our digging game with 16 digs and Kremer took the lead at the net with nine solid blocks.

    It was kind of nice to mix it up and play on a Sunday for once, as we were able to experience a little bit more of Columbus than we usually do. Saturday morning, our team was able to go out and catch a little of the ESPN GameDay that was being aired right outside the volleyball gym. It was a lot of fun! We were hopping on each other's shoulders and waving our arms in the air in our best attempt to get on TV; unfortunately, we didn't have much luck (haha). While we were waiting around, LeBron James walked right by us! It was pretty cool to see such a famous athlete right in front of us.

    After that, we went to lunch at a small, local family-owned deli run by an Ohio State football Hall-of-Famer. The owner was extremely friendly and even brought us out fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies before we left! They were sooo goooooood! The rest of the day was allotted to homework and rest, followed by a delicious dinner at Buca di Beppo. And, before we knew it, game day was upon us!

    Winning this match on the road was extremely important for us. The feeling we had as we stepped onto the plane to go home was amazing. We had a lot to work on in practice this week, yet that yummy after-taste of the away victory at Ohio State is still in our mouths and we are ready to take on our next two visiting matches at Indiana and Penn State this weekend!

    Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween, and as always, GO HAWKS!


    Catherine Smale

    October 22, 2008
    After a tough mid-week loss to Minnesota on the road, we were anxious to take the floor against Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. We have had a very successful record at home this season, only losing to No. 1 ranked Penn State on our home floor. We came into Saturday's match with the knowledge of how important a win would be. Michigan State had the same record as us in the Big Ten, and a win would take us that much closer to the top of the conference standings.

    We came out really aggressive and took the first two sets. We went into the locker room confident, but with a lot of fight left in us. We were more than halfway there, now we just had to finish it. We didn't come out as strong in the third set as we lost pretty handedly. We pretty much struggled in every area possible. It was good to get it out of our systems though! After losing the third set, each of us came out knowing we had to improve our own game if we were going to win the match. It was so inspiring to see everyone step their game up to win the fourth set.

    We now stand at 4-4 in the Big Ten. We're not even halfway through the Big Ten season, and we already have just as many wins in conference play than each of the past three years I've been here. It's truly a special season, and I can't wait to see how far this team can go. Wish us luck as we hit the road for Michigan and Ohio State!


    Megan Schipper

    October 17, 2008
    Having three games in the seven was exhausting! Especially along with having midterm exams and projects piled on top. This past weekend we played No. 1 Penn State Friday and Indiana Saturday in Iowa City. We also played at No. 12 Minnesota Wednesday on the Big Ten Network. We went 1-2 between the three matches.

    We were so excited to get back on our home floor after a rough couple days at Purdue and Illinois. And we were definitely ready to play the top ranked team in the country, Penn State. We came out firing against them, ready for anything they could throw at us, but just couldn't pull it out. The best part about this match was that we scored the second highest number of points on them all season! We fought hard and played well, but their four all-American hitters who are at least 6"3' were just too much for us.

    After a close loss on Friday, we were so ready for Indiana Saturday. Since Mara Hilgenberg played at Indiana last year, she was ready to kick some Hoosier butt! The entire team was dancing around in the locker room and had plenty of energy because knew it could be a long night. We won a very close first set, but Indiana started to come back at the end. They had a lot of momentum and that carried over to the second set, which they took pretty easily. In the locker room between the second and third set, Coach Dingman took charge and told us to step up and show some pride in our school. And that we did. We still lost the third set, but we decided we weren't ready for the match to be over, so we won the fourth. Now the match was tied 2-2, and the momentum swung to our side. The players left every bit of energy they had on the court in the fifth set. Aimee Huffman came in and played absolutely amazing along with the rest of the team to take a five-set victory over the Hoosiers!

    Wednesday rolled in quick and we headed up to Minnesota. We flew into Minneapolis that day at noon, ate some lunch and stepped on the court ready to play the Golden Gophers. They came out swinging and we just didn't have the energy and enthusiasm we needed to in order to pull out an upset. The first set was a rough one, but we fought harder in the second and had a great comeback in the third, but just couldn't put everybody's abilities together.

    We're bouncing back though and get to have one great day of practice before we play Michigan State Saturday night at home again. We're so excited to be back on our home floor and hope to see you all there!

    Go Hawks!

    Joanna Giampoli

    October 9, 2008, 2008
    Our first Big Ten road matches were a little tough this past weekend. I never knew winning on the road in the Big Ten conference was such a hard task. We took a charter bus to Purdue and Illinois. It was a long trip, but it was nice watching movies on the way there and back and getting meals in between.

    Thursday night we got to our hotel and got ready for the Purdue match the next day. We had practice in the morning, and it was a very competitive practice. We felt pretty good going into the match. Unfortunately, we did not come out with a win at Purdue. They are a very good team, but we weren't getting touches on balls that we normally do. We know that they are definitely beatable and we are very excited and ready to see them again at home.

    The match against Illinois was not the prettiest match we've played this year. We took them to four and kept our heads high, with no doubt that we could come back and win the match, but unfortunately it just wasn't our night.

    It's exciting to be back at home this weekend. We get to play the number one team in the country...Penn State! We are ready to take them on and hopefully come out with a huge upset! We also play Indiana. This is also a big match, especially since Mara Hilgenberg transferred from there. We not only want to win for her, but because we have the ability to beat them.

    Catherine Smale

    September 29, 2008
    First off, I have never been so excited to blog about a weekend. In the past, beginning the Big Ten season had been the start of a few struggles. Playing in such a strong conference makes every match extremely competitive. There are no teams that can be overlooked. We have been stuck in the underdog position for the past few years, and as a team we have talked about making that change this year.

    After our impressive victories last weekend at our home tournament, we wanted to carry over that intensity in practice all week. We were incredibly focused and I've never seen our team so excited to get on the floor. We came out Friday against Wisconsin, a physical team ranked 18th in the nation. I think we caught them a little off guard, as we played out of our minds, winning in three! No one expected us to win, much less sweep them in three sets! Well, it's a new year and a new team, and we did. I can't even describe all the emotions in the locker room after the game. Everyone was ecstatic.

    Even though that was a HUGE victory for us, we knew it would be considered a fluke if we didn't come out just as strong Saturday night against Northwestern. For me, I just told myself to forget about the win against Wisconsin and focus only on Saturday night's match. We came out a little slow in the first game, losing 18-25. We knew we weren't playing like ourselves, coupled with the fact Northwestern was lights out in the first set. We came out determined and inspired, closing the match in four sets. With this win, we have already doubled our Big Ten wins of last year! And that was just in the first weekend!

    With it being homecoming weekend, we knew we would have great support in the crowd. I have never seen our fans cheer like they did. They were on their feet, supporting us on every point. The atmosphere was perfect for us, and probably tough for Wisconsin and Northwestern to play in.

    I have never been so proud to be a Hawkeye, and I have no doubt our wins will continue!

    Megan Schipper

    September 23, 2008
    The team had never been so excited about a home tournament weekend. We went 3-0 and took care of any team that stood in our way of winning our own Hawkeye-Holiday Inn Challenge! It was a great weekend to be a Hawkeye!

    We started off by playing Portland Friday night and took care of business in a quick three-set match. Saturday morning against DePaul went well also. We started off strong in the first set, slowing down only a little in the second set before taking that match in three-sets too. Saturday night was definitely going to be our toughest match because both teams (Iowa and Tulsa) were undefeated, but we came out firing and ready to play. Taking down Tulsa in three sets as well put a cap on our already fantastic weekend.

    There wasn't a player or coach on our team that didn't play and cheer with everything they had. Aimee Huffman and myself made all-tournament team along with Emily Hiza who, for the second time this year, was named Libero of the Tournament and Catherine Smale took home tournament M.V.P.

    Our main goal this pre-season was to win our own tournament and by having a great week in practice (and seeing our assistant coach Chris about give Megan Eskew a concussion in practice by hitting a ball just about as hard as he could at her face...not on purpose though), we accomplished it.

    Next weekend we're at home again to start the Big Ten season and we CAN'T WAIT! Playing Wisconsin Friday night and Northwestern Saturday night will be great tests of our strength as a team, but we have more confidence than ever so get ready for some great volleyball this season. Hope to see you at Carver this weekend!


    Joanna Giampoli

    September 16, 2008
    This past weekend was a huge weekend for us Hawkeyes. Playing Iowa State was one of the biggest matches we have played yet this season. Unfortunately, we came out with a loss of six points total.

    We were in control, for the most part, in all three of the sets but we were unable to finish any of them. Coach Dingman told us after the match that a loss is a loss. She said to come out the next day fighting and shake it off because mourning over the loss would not help us at all... and we did!

    We went 2-1 in the tournament and finished in second place. We mixed up the lineup a little after losing our first set to Xavier and then put them away the next three. We then beat Drake in three quick sets.

    We are very excited for our first home tournament this weekend and hope everyone comes out to support us!

    Our goal is to win our own tournament and wrap up the weekend in first place!


    Megan Schipper

    September 9, 2008
    Pre-conference tournaments continue to roll on and our confidence continues to slowly rise. This weekend was another tough one for us in Denver as we took on Tennessee, Denver, and Virginia.

    We started off very strong against Tennessee, winning in three sets. One of their middles went down with an injury in the second set so we're thinking of her, considering we know how it feels to lose two key players during season. Saturday morning was a rough one for us, losing in three to Denver. This proving that if we're not on top of our game at all times, winning isn't going to be easy.

    Saturday night's match against Virginia started off the way we ended against Denver...not so great. We lost the first two sets, but then got a little inspiration from our assistant coach (Chris Gaskill) when he told us, "This is not last year. We have an opportunity to do something different...take advantage!" From there on out we played at the top of our games and pulled out a nail-biting set victory.

    Overall the weekend turned out to be a good one by going 2-1 against some pretty tough teams. Kiley Fister and Laura Kremer were amazing leaders and were voted to the all-tournament team with Emily Hiza proving she loved being back home by earning all-tournament team libero.

    Next weekend the Hawkeye women are at Iowa State and absolutely cannot wait to take on the in-state rivals. We're going to keep improving every day while our fans cheer us on. GO HAWKS!

    Catherine Smale

    September 2, 2008
    After almost three weeks of pre-season practice, we were itching to show how our hard work has paid off since our season ended last November. With most of the team staying in Iowa City this summer, we were able to work out as a team and play quite a bit. Personally, I have never felt stronger or more in shape than I did entering this pre-season.

    Our first competition took place in Tuscaloosa, AL, at the Hampton Inn/Bama Bash Tournament. Our first match was Friday against Nicholls State, a team from Louisiana. Void of any first-match jitters, we took care of business and won three straight sets. It was a great feeling to get that first win. We watched the Alabama vs. Western Kentucky match after and realized we would have our work cut out for us Saturday, as we were scheduled to play both teams.

    Unfortunately, Saturday didn't go as well as planned. We lost both matches in four sets. Both Alabama and Western Kentucky made it to the NCAA Tournament last season, which is a goal we have for our team this year. It was good practice to play the level of teams similar to the ones we will be facing when the Big Ten season begins. Megan Schipper had a standout weekend, earning all-tournament honors.

    On a personal note, I can't believe this is my final year. It feels like just yesterday I stepped on the court for the first time as a Hawkeye. I came in as a freshman with the hope of seeing improvement in both myself and the program by the time I was a senior. I can honestly say I've seen both, and the season is only getting started! Wish us luck as we head to Denver this weekend! GO HAWKS!!!

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