Sept. 11, 2009
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IOWA CITY, IA – The University of Iowa volleyball team fell to 11th-ranked Iowa State 3-1 tonight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in their opening match of the 2009 Hawkeye Challenge. Senior Megan Schipper paced the Hawkeyes with 17 kills, junior Mara Hilgenberg added 41 assists and Iowa City native Emma Krieger Kittle contributed with a career-high 12 kills.
After beginning the season with six consecutive road wins, the Hawkeyes dropped their first match of the season in front of 2,111 fans, the second-highest attendance total in program history.
“The team played with tremendous effort tonight,” said Head Coach Sharon Dingman. “I can’t stress enough how pleased we are with the fan support. We just talked about how much fun it was to play in front of such a large crowd and I hope the fans continue to support this great group of Hawkeyes.”
Iowa fed off the crowd’s energy early, jumping to a 10-5 first set lead. Senior Becky Walters started the scoring with a kill and Schipper contributed with an ace and a kill to help Iowa stake its largest lead of the opening set. Iowa State battled back to tie the contest at 17-17 before finishing the set on an 8-1 run to take a 1-0 match advantage. Schipper totaled nine kills in the opening set and Hilgenberg added 22 assists.
The Hawkeyes gave the near-record setting crowd something to cheer about in their 25-21 second-set win. Schipper came out firing with six more kills and Krieger Kittle and junior Aimee Huffman added three kills apiece.
The Hawkeyes trailed the set until junior Katie Kennedy hammered a kill to spark a five-point run and give Iowa a 17-13 advantage. After a Krieger Kittle kill gave Iowa its largest lead of the night, 22-17, the Cyclones called a timeout and closed within three points 23-20. The Hawkeyes then forced two ISU errors to close out the set and tie the match, 1-1.
Iowa State bounced back in the third set with a 25-19 victory. Krieger Kittle led the Iowa offense with four kills and Huffman contributed with six digs and three kills.
Trailing 3-5 in the early going, Iowa used two ISU errors and a kill each from Krieger Kittle and Kennedy to take a 7-5 advantage. But the Cyclones answered with a 10-2 run to take a 15-9 lead the Hawkeyes were unable to overcome. Two ISU errors pulled the Hawkeyes within four points, 19-23, but a kill from Cyclone Victoria Henson and an Iowa error gave ISU the set win and a 2-1 match lead.
The Cyclones rode their third-set momentum into the fourth frame, grabbing a 2-1 lead and never trailing again in the set. Schipper added seven more kills and senior Christina Meister contributed with nine of her team-high 22 digs, but the nationally-ranked Cylcones were able to escape the fourth set with a 25-20 win and capture the match victory, 3-1.
“Iowa State pushed us hard,” said Dingman. “There were a few times we could’ve really caved in, but we came out and pushed back. I’m really pleased with the fight from this team. Everyone played in big part in rallying the troops to compete against the 11th-ranked team in the country.”
The Hawkeyes return to action tomorrow at the Hawkeye Challenge. Iowa will face Northern Colorado at Noon before hosting Drake at 7 p.m. Both contests can be viewed live via hawkeyesports.com. The Hawkeyes’ matchup with Drake can also be heard locally on KXIC (AM 800).