Oct. 13, 2004
The Iowa volleyball team (9-10, 1-6) is well aware of how tough playing in the Big Ten Conference is. The Hawkeyes have played on the road against nationally-ranked Penn State and Ohio State already, and tonight faced their toughest opponent yet in #2 Minnesota (17-2, 6-1). Iowa challenged Minnesota at times in the match, but the Gophers were just too tough to handle as they won in three games (30-21, 30-16, 30-25).
“I’m unhappy with the result of the match,” said Iowa Coach Cindy Fredrick. “But I’m not unhappy with the way that our girls played. We played better than last weekend and are still a definite work in progress.”
The Hawks seemed to surprise the Gophers in game one, just as they have done in previous matches in the Big Ten. In fact, Iowa went up 15-14 on a Stacy Vitali kill, but Minnesota started to control the tempo of the game after that. In the rest of the game, the Hawks never served for another point, and only scored on sideouts. Minnesota’s Meredith Nelson earned a kill for the 30-21 victory.
Minnesota came out blazing in the second game and built up a 19-6 lead at one point. The Hawkeyes were only able to put 16 points on the board total in the 30-16 loss as Minnesota hit at an impressive .404 clip in the game.
The third and final game was Iowa’s best effort of the night. The teams traded service errors to tie the game at 7-7, but then the Gophers went ahead 12-7 with Kelly Bowman serving. Iowa clawed their way back into the match on Gophers miscues and then Pam Kavadas served two points to make it a 12-14 ball game. The Hawkeyes pulled within one, 16-17, on a kill by Jacqueline Huguelet, when Minnesota started to pull away to the 30-25 win.
“We struggled again tonight on offense and just had too many hitting mistakes,” said Fredrick. “Their blocks were forcing us to adjust our hitting, and we really need to work on just pounding the ball.”
On the night, the Hawkeyes hit .205 as a team. The Hawkeyes hitting percentage was .000, .111 and .205, in each game. Carolyn Giese and Stacy Vitali had nine kills to lead Iowa. Chelsey Garrett was credited with 20 assists. Laura Simpson had ten digs and Iowa’s only ace serve. The Hawks also had four blocks.
“We really stressed blocking this week in practice because the hardest thing to do in volleyball is to set a block,” said Fredrick. “Our defense was much better. Pam did great defensively, and so did Laura and Tiana [Costanzo]. Jacque did well coming in off the bench and Carolyn really had a good night hitting.”
The next challenge on Iowa’s schedule is the University of Illinois. The Fighting Illini are currently ranked #23 in the nation. “Illinois is going to be really tough,” said Fredrick. “That’s the double-edged sword of the Big Ten, playing against such tough competition.”
Iowa will host the Fighting Illini this Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The match is schedule for a 7 p.m. start time.