July 14, 2009
IOWA CITY, Iowa — According to University of Iowa senior Christina Meister, defense and scrappiness can do a lot of damage on a volleyball court. The Hawkeyes hope to utilize those attributes while improving on a 14-18 record during the 2008 season.
“I think we’re going to win a lot of games by being more defensive because we are a smaller team,” Meister said. “We don’t have as many 6-foot-3 girls as most of the other Big Ten schools, so being defensive and scrappy and playing out every point will be keys. We’re well-conditioned, so we’ll push every team and win points maybe we shouldn’t win because we out-conditioned them.”
Meister, a defensive specialist, graduated from West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley High School. She is one of two seniors on the Hawkeye roster, joining outside hitter Megan Schipper of Aplington, Iowa.
“As a senior, you want to go out on a high note,” Meister said. “We want to play well and have everyone play as a team. We’re still building our program, so we want to continue to work on that. We’ve put a lot of hard work in through the summer and the benefit of that will be to go out and play well.”
Last season — the first under head coach Sharon Dingman and her staff — Iowa posted a 4 ½-game improvement over the 2007 campaign. The Hawkeyes bolted out of the gate with victories in 10 of their first 14 matches.
“We only lost four people, so a good group is still here,” Meister said. “We know how this staff works, we know how things go and we know what they want. Now it’s more on our shoulders. Instead of learning what they have to teach us, we can put into effect what we have already learned. We can go out and play hard and win, knowing what the coaches expect.”
Last season Meister saw action in 83 sets, compiling 87 digs, 11 ace serves and five assists. She entered the UI program as a setter and will now see the bulk of her time at defensive specialist.
“A lot of my focus individually will be on defense,” Meister said.
The Hawkeyes open the season Aug. 28 at Loyola (Chicago). The first action inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be Friday, Sept. 11, against Iowa State in the first round of the Hawkeye Challenge.
“We’re so excited,” Meister said. “We’ve been working out every day this summer, so we’re ready to get into the gym and play.”
Last season Iowa crafted a 7-6 record at home, including a perfect 3-0 mark against nonconference opponents. One of the biggest wins of the season was a three-set sweep of Wisconsin, then rated No. 18 in the nation.