Aug. 30, 2008
Tuscaloosa, AL – The University of Iowa volleyball team lost a hard-fought, four-set match to Western Kentucky Saturday morning, 24-26, 26-24, 17-25, 17-25, at the Hampton Inn/Bama Bash. Iowa falls to 1-1 on the season while Western Kentucky, who qualified for last year’s NCAA Tournament, improves to 2-0.
“We gave up a lot of points off errors,” Head Coach Sharon Dingman said. “I thought we played very physical and it was wonderful to see us stick to the game plan and make adjustments. Our errors are very fixable and we need to keep improving.”
Senior Catherine Smale had an impressive outing in the loss, collecting 20 kills with a career-high .514 attack percentage. Sophomore Megan Schipper added 10 kills and 11 digs while senior Kiley Fister collected 44 assists. Sophomore Megan Eskew led the team with 14 digs.
“Western Kentucky is a strong team,” Smale said. “They were in the NCAA Tournament last season, and that’s where we want to be at the end of the year. We really came out aggressive and played hard. The team is really looking forward to getting back on the court tonight against Alabama.”
Iowa fought hard in the first set, but fell 26-24. Freshman Aimee Huffman led the Hawkeye attack with three kills and a .500 attack percentage. Smale also added three kills and four digs.
Western Kentucky built a 7-3 lead to start the first set, but the Hawkeyes kept it close and a small 3-0 run later in the frame brought the score within three at 15-12. The Lady Toppers stretched their lead to five points at 19-14, forcing Iowa to take its first timeout. The Hawkeyes came out strong after the timeout with a 4-0 run, highlighted by two-straight Eskew service aces, to bring Iowa within one at 19-18. Western Kentucky then used its own 3-0 run to bring the score to 22-19. Iowa used a Lady Topper error for a 22-20 score, but two more Western Kentucky kills brought up set point at 24-20. The Hawkeyes battled to back to tie the score at 24 with another 4-0 run, capped by a solid block and kill by Schipper. Western Kentucky managed to score two points to finish the set at 26-24.
Iowa tied the match at one set a piece with a thrilling 26-24 win in set two. Senior Laura Kremer and Smale collected 13 of Iowa’s 15 kills in the second set, with Smale hitting at a .800 clip while Kremer tallied a .571 attack percentage.
Set two saw ties at one, two and five before Western Kentucky used a 7-1 run for an 11-6 lead. Iowa called its first timeout of the frame and once again responded after the pause, this time with a solid 9-2 to gain a 15-13 advantage. The Hawkeyes stayed hot after Western Kentucky stopped play with a timeout, using a short 3-1 run for an 18-14 lead. The Lady Toppers killed the Hawkeye rally with a 4-1 spurt to bring the score within one at 19-18, but two Western Kentucky errors gave Iowa a three-point advantage at 21-18. Another Western Kentucky run, this time at 5-2, tied the score at 23. The Lady Toppers had its first set point at 24-23, but three-straight Hawkeye points sealed the set as the team’s headed to the locker rooms.
Western Kentucky took the third set by a 25-17 score. Huffman and Smale paced the Hawkeyes with four kills a piece.
The set stayed within two points in favor of the Lady Toppers until two Huffman kills knotted the score at six. Western Kentucky then gained a 12-6 lead after a 6-0 run. The Lady Toppers maintained their lead throughout the set, eventually stretching its advantage to 20-12, forcing the Hawkeyes to use their second and final timeout. Western Kentucky managed to hold off the Hawkeyes for the remainder of the set to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Western Kentucky sealed the match with a 25-17 win in set four. Smale once again shined, collecting five kills with a .500 attack percentage.
Smale collected four of Iowa’s first five points to give the Hawkeyes an early 5-3 lead. The Lady Toppers then strung together a 9-1 run to regain the lead at 12-6. Western Kentucky kept the lead for the remainder of the set, but Iowa made things interesting late. Kills by Kremer and Schipper brought the Hawkeyes within two at 17-15, but an 8-2 Lady Topper run closed the set and match.
Iowa will close out the Hampton Inn/Bama Bash Saturday night against host-school Alabama at 7 p.m. Fans can find a link to tonight’s Gametracker link on the schedule page of hawkeyesports.com, or a live video feed at rolltide.com.