Year Two, Higher Expectations

Aug. 19, 2005

Seven days from today, Cindy Fredrick and her young University of Iowa volleyball team will open the 2005 season with the Holiday Inn-Hawkeye Challenge. Their plan is to prove the naysayers wrong.

Iowa started fast a year ago but faded under the strain of injury and the level of competition in the Big Ten Conference. To their peers, Iowa was the same old Iowa…an easy win.

Fredrick doesn’t mind the lack of respect. It needs to be earned she readily acknowledges.

“I like being the underdog anyway. We’ll surprise them with our ability,” Iowa’s second-year head coach smiled.

Team Captain Tiana Costanzo agreed with her head coach. “I think we are definitely going to surprise some teams this year. We have a lot of great players and a very good freshmen class coming in,” she said.

The Hawkeyes acquired a phenomenal recruiting class, ranked 30th nationally, which includes Laura Kremer, Felicia Booth, Laura Gustin, Mary Puck, and Catherine Smale, Kiley Fister, and Emily Hiza whom were all honored as prep All-Americans by Fredrick is especially excited about this group.

“(Assistant coach) Farokh and I are not used to losing and most of the kids understand that,”
UI Volleyball Coach Cindy Fredrick

“I expect them to do well, and that’s what we keep reiterating. They are performing very well in practice right now so that’s a good thing.”

Senior Justeen Patton agrees. “The freshmen will come in and help us out tremendously,” she said. “They are doing well as far as maturity and they are doing their part. I see a lot of freshmen helping us out this year, which is very good for our program too because they will be here for the next four years.”

The Hawkeyes also added a transfer student to their roster in junior Melanie Meister, a transfer from Cal-State Fulerton, who will share the co-captain responsibilities with Costanzo.

“This is an amazing position for Melanie because she is a transfer, she just got here, and her team elected her captain. That says a lot about her,.” said Fredrick.

The Hawkeyes return six players in Costanzo, seniors Justeen Patton and Lauren Bruckner, junior Jacqueline Huguelet, and sophomores Megan Gatens and and Stacy Vitali, the team’s top returning attacker.

With so many new faces and a very young team, Fredrick will look for leadership among her older players and a few new faces to step up.

“We have a lot of kids that are stepping forward with good leadership and they are not the captains, but they are still showing good leadership.”

After making several important strides last year in recruiting, Fredrick will enter her second year a little bit more comfortable with her coaching philosophy and what she needs to do to turn the Iowa program around.

“Now we are really incorporating our program. Last year, we were not trying to make a lot of changes, but now with all of the new kids we’re really trying to incorporate the we way we run our program,” she said, adding that her first goal in getting a good recruiting class has been accomplished.

Costanzo enjoys the way Fredrick and her staff have been incorporating their coaching into the program.

“The coaching staff has done amazing things, things not actually volleyball, but also better equipment and locker rooms. It’s exciting with all of the freshmen coming in.”

After a rough two-win league performance last year, Fredrick often talked about the lack of consistency on her team with a season filled with ups and downs. Consistency will be one of her team’s focal points in preparing for the upcoming season.

“If they make a mistake on the court, we go back and we repeat it, and we get it until we get it right.” she said.

Patton said that she feels a little bit more comfortable with the coaching staff.

“Last year we didn’t really know what to expect from the coaches. Now we know what to expect, and they can expect more out of us because they’ve had us for a year. I know what they want from me, and I feel like more at ease, because I know my role,” said the senior from Tampa.

After a season without many concrete goals, Fredrick is excited to get back to where her and her team has precise goals. “Last year, when the Big Ten hit, mononucleosis also hit,” she said with a chuckle.

“I think this season if we can keep people healthy and they keep progressing I think these kids have the ablity…they all know what it takes to win and they are already developing pretty darn good team chemistry, too.”

But overall, Fredrick and her staff are looking forward to improving the win column this season with concrete goals.

“(Assistant coach) Farokh and I are not used to losing and most of the kids understand that,” she said with her characteristic smile.