Hawkeyes Take their Unbeaten Record on the Road

Sept. 1, 2010

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The Hawkeyes head to St. Louis, Mo., this weekend to compete in the Marcia E. Hamilton Active Ankle Challenge on the campus of Saint Louis University. Iowa opens the Challenge Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Wake Forest. The Hawkeyes conclude the Challenge with a doubleheader Saturday. Iowa takes on Creighton at 11:30 a.m. before facing tournament-host Saint Louis at 7 p.m.

Hawkeye fans can follow this weekend’s action by visiting hawkeyesports.com. A member of the volleyball staff will operate a live blog during each match. Gametracker will also provide coverage for all three weekend matches. Saturday’s contest vs. Saint Louis will be streamed live at no cost on the Billikens’ All-Access site. Visit slubillikens.com for All-Access information.

Throughout the season, fans will be able to follow the Hawkeyes via the Official Iowa Volleyball Blog, Gametracker, live streaming and live audio by visiting hawkeyesports.com. Iowa’s home matches will be available via Hawkeye All-Access. Audio, video and Gametracker links can be found on the volleyball schedule page of hawkeyesports.com.

The Hawkeyes will make three appearances on national television this season. Each of Iowa’s contests versus No. 6 Minnesota (10/6, 10/27) and the home match against Northwestern (10/30) will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. All three matches will be broadcast in high-definition.

WAKE FOREST (game one)
The Demon Deacons are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference and led by sixth-year head coach Heather Kahl Holmes. Wake Forest is 2-1 on the young season and led by junior outside hitter Kadija Fornah, who leads the team in kills and was voted the team’s best offensive player in 2009. The Demon Deacons are 1-0 all-time against the Hawkeyes. Wake Forest won the only meeting between the schools, 3-0, in 2005.

CREIGHTON (game two)
The Bluejays are members of the Missouri Valley Conference and led by eighth-year head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth and senior outside hitter Alicia Runge, who has 60 kills through the first four matches of 2010. Creighton won its season opener, but has since dropped three straight matches. The two schools have split the all-time series, 1-1. Iowa won the last meeting, 3-2, in 2006.

SAINT LOUIS (game three)
The Billikins are members of the Atlantic 10 and led by sixth-year head coach Anne Kordes, the 2008 Conference Coach of the Year. The Billikens enter the weekend with a 1-2 mark and are led by senior outside hitter Megan Boken, who was named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week Aug. 31. Iowa and Saint Louis haven’t met since Iowa swept the Billikens, 3-0, in 1992, the only meeting between the schools.

“We got the season started on the right track and we’re excited to keep moving forward this weekend. The freshmen will be making their first road trip, which is always exciting, and I think the veterans are pumped about taking this team on the road. We have great team chemistry in our lockerroom and that can be very beneficial when you hit the road for the first time.”
Head Coach Sharon Dingman

For the first time in program history, the Iowa volleyball team has started 3-0 in consecutive seasons. Iowa swept through the Hawkeye Challenge to post its 3-0 record this year. In 2009, the Hawkeyes matched the best start in program history by winning their first six matches.

Senior Becky Walters and juniors Mallory Husz and Paige Stevens each recorded double-doubles in Iowa’s 3-2 come-from-behind victory over SIU. Stevens matched her career high by dishing 52 assists and set a career high by picking up 15 digs. Husz recorded career bests in kills (21) and total blocks (11), while Walters earned career highs in kills (20) and digs (10).

Four Hawkeyes earned all-tournament honors at the 2010 Hawkeye Challenge, including tournament MVP Mallory Husz, who averaged 12 kills and 6.7 blocks as Iowa swept through the three-match challenge. Freshman Bethany Yeager was named the tournament’s top libero after averaging 5.25 digs per set. Senior Becky Walters and junior Megan Eskew were named to the all-tournament team.

The Hawkeyes have four incoming freshmen on the roster, including three from the Lone Star State. Freshmen Bethany Yeager (Brenham, TX), Chante’ Thompson (Hurst, TX) and Rachael Bedell (Plano, TX) all come from the state of Texas. The trio is joined by freshman Nikki Dailey (Franklin, WI). Iowa’s freshmen quartet represent a 2010 recruiting class that earned Highest Honorable Mention by PrepVolleyball.com.

After beginning the season with three straight home matches the Hawkeye will hit the road for seven of their next eight contests, including a conference-opening road trip to Michigan and Michigan State. Fourteen of Iowa’s 29 matches are against 2009 NCAA Tournament qualifiers. They include Iowa State, Saint Louis, Illinois (2), Michigan (2), Michigan State (2), Ohio State (2) and Penn State (2).

Senior Becky Walters and junior Megan Eskew have been named team captains for the 2010 season. Walters, a fifth-year senior from Parkersburg, IA, recorded a career-best 181 kills in 2009, the third highest total on the team. Eskew missed 2009 with a knee injury but returned last week to earn all-tournament honors at the Hawkeye Challenge.

Freshman Chante’ Thompson recorded three kills in her collegiate debut against Green Bay.

Senior Aimee Huffman continues to rehab from a right should injury and will miss the 2010 season. Huffman was an Academic all-Big Ten honoree in 2009 and was expected to be Iowa top returning scorer. Last season, the Poth, TX native ranked among the team leaders in kills (second), assists (third), blocks (third) and digs (third). Huffman started the first 26 games of 2009 before missing the final six matches due to illness. She was named MVP of two preseason tournaments and earned all-tournament honors at last year’s Hawkeye Challenge.

BIG IN `09
The Hawkeyes continued to show signs of improvement and postseason potential in Dingman’s second season at the helm of the Iowa program. The Hawkeyes recorded five conference victories to raise their two-year win total to 11, the highest two-year win total in nine years. Other 2009 highlights include:
? ranked No. 23 in national attendance
? set average attendance record of 1,632
? hosted the two largest crowds in program history, including a school record 3,102 fans Nov. 11 vs. Penn State
? started the season 6-0, matching the best start in program history
? first team in program history to start the season 7-0 on the road
? ranked No. 23 in national attendance

Seven Big Ten teams were represented in the weekly AVCA Division I Coaches Poll. Four teams ranked among the top 25, including Penn State, who once again occupied the top spot. Illinois and Minnesota each ranked in the top 10, with the Illini at No. 5 and the Gophers at No. 8. Michigan rounded out the ranked Big Ten squads at No. 19, while Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin also received votes in this week’s poll.
? The Big Ten led the nation in attendance in 2009 and has been the national leader on seven occasions in the last 13 years, including four of the past six seasons.
? Big Ten volleyball possesses unrivaled national television coverage. Twenty-three regular-season games reached a national television audience in 2009, while another 21 were streamed online at www.bigtennetwork.com. This year, 23 regular-season contests will be televised and additional matches will be streamed online at www.bigtennetwork.com.
? Big Ten teams have combined to reach the NCAA semifinals on 17 occasions.
? The Big Ten has sent three or more teams to NCAA regionals on 15 occasions, including each of the past eight years.
? The Big Ten owns a 208-126 (.623) overall record in NCAA competition and has posted a record of .500 or better in each of the past 19 NCAA tournaments.