Volleyball to Serve Up First Event of 2009-10 Cy-Hawk Series

Sept. 8, 2009

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The Iowa Hawkeyes return home this weekend to host the Hawkeye Challenge at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa will face Iowa State at 7 p.m. Friday and Northern Colorado at Noon and Drake at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball on hawkeyesports.com, where live audio and video and live stats will be available for all three weekend matches. Play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes Mike Haberle will call the action live from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Visit the Iowa volleyball schedule page for links to live video and stats.

The Hawkeyes opened the 2009 campaign with six straight wins to become just the third Iowa team to open the volleyball season 6-0 (1978, 1988). No team in program history has started the season 7-0.

Junior libero Christina Meister was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after her performance at last week’s Green Bay Classic. Meister tied a school-record with 36 digs vs. Central Michigan to become the first Hawkeye to earn a Big Ten weekly honor since 2006 when her sister, Melanie Meister, took home the award on offense. Meister leads the Big Ten with an average of 5.19 digs per set.

Friday’s contest with Iowa State will kickoff the 2009-10 Cy-Hawk Series. Since its inagurual year in 2004-05, the winner of the first series event has gone on to win the overall series three times. Iowa State has won all three volleyball meetings since the conception of the Cy-Hawk Series.

“Preparation will be the key to our success. If we approach this week of practice with the discipline and effort it will take to win this weekend, then we will give ourselves a chance to continue having success.”
Head Coach Sharon Dingman

Junior setter Mara Hilgenberg was named MVP of the Country Inn and Suites Classic last weekend. The Lake Forest, IL, native set a career-high with 47 assists vs. South Dakota State en route to Iowa’s tournament championship. Junior outside hitter Aimee Huffman and senior libero Christina Meister also earned all-tournament honors. Huffman added 34 kills and 26 digs in the Classic, while Meister collected 75 digs, including a career-high 36 in Iowa’s win over Central Michigan, tying an Iowa record.

Huffman was named MVP of the Loyola Invitational in Iowa’s weekend opener, Aug. 28-29. The Poth, TX native totaled 29 kills, 19 digs, 10 blocks and seven assists in the three-game tournament sweep. Junior Becky Walters earned all-tournament accolades after a dominating weekend at the net and service line. Walters matched a career high with seven blocks vs. Eastern Kentucky and served a career-best four aces vs. Marquette.

Iowa has remained undefeated through six matches due in large part to its defense. The Hawkeyes rank number one in the conference in digs, averaging 18.2 per game. The senior duo of Christina Meister and Megan Schipper have led the defensive efforts. Meister’s 5.8 digs/game lead the Big Ten, while Schipper’s 3.7 average ranks eighth.

Three Hawkeyes sit atop the conference in five individual match categories. Junior setter Mara Hilgenberg leads the Big Ten in three-set assists (45) and four-set assists (t-47). Senior Christina Meister leads the conference in three-set digs (t-19) and four-set digs (36), while Megan Schipper leads the Big Ten in match service aces (7 vs. South Dakota State).

Senior Megan Schipper is the only Big Ten player to rank among the top 10 in points (4th, 4.55/game), kills (8th, 3.62/game), service aces (4th, 0.52/game) and digs (8th, 3.71/game). The Hawkeye captain served a career-best seven aces in Iowa’s 3-1 win over South Dakota State.

IOWA STATE (game one)
The Cyclones are members of the Big 12 and led by fourth-year Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch and junior OH Victoria Henson, who earned all-tournament honors at the Diet Coke Classic last week in Minneapolis. Iowa leads the all-time series, 21-19. The Cyclones have won the last four meetings, including last year’s 3-0 win at Ames. Iowa last beat the Cyclones, 3-0, in 1997.

The Bears are members of the Big Sky Conference and led by Head Coach Lyndsey Benson and senior MB Taylor Smith, who earned conference POTW honors after leading UNC to a 3-1 start at the North Texas Mean Green Volleyball Classic. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 1-0, having defeated the Bears, 3-1, in 2007.

DRAKE (game three)
The Bulldogs are members of the Missouri Valley Conference and led by second-year Head Coach Phil McDaniel and junior libero Alana Wittenburg, MVP of last week’s Hampton Inn Drake Invitational. Iowa leads the all-time series, 21-11-1, and has won the last four meetings.

Senior outside hitter Megan Schipper and junior setter Mara Hilgenberg are Iowa’s team captains for the 2009 season. In 2008, Schipper ranked among the team leaders in kills, service aces, digs and total blocks. Hilgenberg is the Hawkeyes’ top returner in assists and is a third generation Hawkeye captain. Her great-uncle Wally and her uncle Jim were football team captains in 1963 and 1977, respectively.

Mara Hilgenberg’s father Jay and Emma Krieger Kittle’s father Bruce played football together at Iowa from 1977-1980. Jay was a four-time letterwinner and went on to win Super Bowl XX with the 1985 Chicago Bears. Bruce used a redshirt in 1980 and came back as a team captain for Hayden Fry’s 1981 Big Ten Championship team.

Iowa opened the season with two three-game road trips and will continue to pound the pavement with a three-game road tilt following this weekend’s Hawkeye Challenge. To kick off 2009, the Hawkeyes play 11 of their first 14 matches away from home. Eleven of Iowa’s 32 contests are against 2008 NCAA Tournament qualifiers. They include Iowa State, Minnesota (2), Penn State (2), Michigan (2), Purdue (2) and Illinois (2).

Bump, Set, BLOCK!
The Iowa defense dominated the net in the opening weekend at the Loyola Invitational. The Hawkeyes outblocked their opponents 35-16 in the season’s first tournament competition. Three Hawkeyes recorded double-digit block totals in the tournament, with MB Becky Walters leading the way with 15. Senior OH Megan Schipper and junior OH Aimee Huffman recorded 10 blocks each and junior MB Katie Kennedy came off the bench to contribute eight blocks.

Junior Samantha Branigan contributed a career-best three services aces vs. SDSU.

Junior outside hitter Megan Eskew sustained a torn ACL during summer workouts and will miss the 2009 campaign. Eskew earned academic all-Big Ten honors in 2008 and was named MVP of the 2007 Hawkeye-Holiday Inn Challenge as a freshman.

The Big Ten is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier conferences. Penn State returns as the conference champion, winner of the last two NCAA Championships and ranked atop the 2009 AVCA Coaches Poll. Other Big Ten schools ranked in the top 25 include Michigan (7), Minnesota (9), Illinois (14) and Michigan State (18).
? The Big Ten led the nation in attendance in 2008 and has been the national leader on six occasions in the last 12 years, including three of the past five seasons.
? The Big Ten has sent three or more teams to NCAA regionals on 14 occasions, including each of the past seven years.
? Big Ten volleyball players have been named all-America by the AVCA over 100 times since 1984.
? The Big Ten accumulated 10 or more wins in each of the last six NCAA Championships.
? Big Ten teams have combined to reach the NCAA semifinals on 15 occasions.
? The Big Ten owns a .616 overall record in NCAA competition and has posted a record of .500 or better in each of the past 18 NCAA tournaments.

BIG IN `08
Iowa volleyball made significant strides and put together the most successful campaign in recent memory in 2008, including: ? six conference wins, most since 2000 (11)
? 14 overall wins, most since 2000 (15)
? seven-match win streak (fourth-longest streak in school history)
? won 15-consecutive sets, longest since 1990 (22)
? winning record at North Carver (7-6), first time since `98
? set school-record for average attendance (1,146)
? recorded five of the ten largest crowds in program history
? Dingman recorded career win No. 350 vs. N’western (11/14)
? snapped 18-match conference road losing streak
? snapped 39-match losing streak to Ohio State (3-1)
? snapped 26-match losing streak to Wisconsin (3-0)

The 2009 Hawkeyes will make two appearances on the Big Ten Network this season. Iowa will open the Big Ten season at Wisconsin Wednesday, Sept. 23. The contest will be aired live at 7 p.m. CT. The rematch between the Hawkeyes and Badgers, Wednesday, Nov. 11, will be broadcast live from Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 7 p.m. CT. Both matches will be broadcast in high-definition.