Hawkeyes Open Big Ten Season on BTN

Sept. 22, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

The Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Madison, WI, Wednesday to open the Big Ten season at the Wisconsin Badgers. The match starts at 7 p.m. in the Wisconsin Field House. Iowa continues Big Ten play Saturday at Minnesota when the Golden Gophers host the Hawkeyes at 7 p.m. from the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, MN.

The Iowa vs. Wisconsin Big Ten opener will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. Jay Wilson will handle the play-by-play while Elizabeth Moreau adds color commentary.

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball on hawkeyesports.com, where live stats and live blogging will be available for all Big Ten matches in 2009. A member of the Iowa volleyball staff will offer scoring updates and interactive content from the Official Iowa Volleyball Blog. Visit the Iowa volleyball page at hawkeyesports.com for links to live blogging and Gametracker.

The Hawkeyes opened the 2009 campaign with seven straight road wins to become the first team in program history to start 7-0 away from home. Prior to Iowa’s 3-0 over Binghamton, the Hawkeyes were one of three Iowa teams to start the season 6-0 away from home (1978, 1988).

Led by senior libero Christina Meister, the Hawkeyes rank first in the Big Ten and 15th nationally in digs per set (17.36). Meister was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after her performance at the Green Bay Classic (Sept. 4-5). 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 4.81 digs per set.

Iowa ranks 25th in national attendance after averaging 1,275 fans at the 2009 Hawkeye Challenge. Iowa opened the season (Sept. 11) vs. Iowa State in front of 2,111 fans, the second-largest crowd in program history (2,191, Wisconsin, 10/13/07).

The Badgers are led by 11th-year Head Coach Pete Waite and senior OH Brittney Dolgner, a 2007 second-team all-American. The Hawkeyes trail the all-time series 40-18-1. The teams split the season series a year ago, with each team defending its own home floor. Iowa’s 3-0 win over the Badgers in the Big Ten opener snapped the Hawkeyes’ 26-match losing streak to Wisconsin.

Ranked ninth nationally by the AVCA Coaches Poll, the Golden Gophers are led by 14-year Head Coach Mike Hebert and junior MB Lauren Gibbemeyer, who earned all-tournament honors at last weekend’s Pioneer Classic and leads Minnesota with 65 total blocks. The Gophers own a 27-game winning streak vs. Iowa and lead the all-time series, 53-12. Iowa’s last win vs. Minnesota came in 1995, a 3-1 win in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have not won in Minneapolis since defeating the Gophers, 3-2, in 1990.

“Starting the conference schedule with four straight road games is a very challenging way to open the Big Ten season. However, of our 12 matches thus far, nine have been on the road. We should have an understanding of how to manage the travel and prepare for competition.”
Head Coach Sharon Dingman

Four Hawkeyes have earned all-tournament honors in Iowa’s four pre-conference tournaments. They include:

? Loyola Invitational
OH Aimee Huffman (Tournament MVP)
MB Becky Walters

? Country Inn and Suites Green Bay Classic
S Mara Hilgenberg (Tournament MVP)
OH Aimee Huffman>

? Hawkeye Challenge
OH Aimee Huffman

? West Point Classic
S Mara Hilgenberg
OH Megan Schipper

Iowa opens Big Ten play with four-straight road contests. It’s the first time since 1992 the Hawkeyes have opened the conference season with four road matches. 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).

Senior outside hitter Megan Schipper and junior setter Mara Hilgenberg are Iowa’s team captains for the 2009 season. Schipper leads the Hawkeyes in kills (151) and service aces (18) and ranks second in digs (141). Hilgenberg leads the Hawkeyes with 427 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.

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.

Iowa volleyball fans will be able to follow along with senior Megan Schipper, junior Aimee Huffman, sophomore Mallory Husz and freshman Emma Krieger Kittle as they blog about the season . All four student-athletes will discuss things like upcoming matches, road trips and what it’s like being a student-athlete at the University of Iowa. Visit the volleyball home page to check out Iowa’s own VOLLEYBLOG.