Volleyball freshmen learn from loss

Sept. 11, 2010

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Although they were tournament champions the past two weekends and entered Friday’s rivalry matchup against Iowa State with a 5-1 record, the youthful Hawkeyes were shaken by what head coach Sharon Dingman called their first “real” matchup of the 2010 season.

All four of the squads’ freshman saw court time against the 11-ranked Cyclones, including Nikki Dailey who started as setter for the first time in her college career. Dingman said her young women had not yet seen this level of play, but she thinks it posed as a positive learning experience for the team heading into the conference matchups.

“We were stunned in how we came out. We looked really scared and intimidated, and it was not what we expected,” Dingman said in a postgame press conference. “But one thing to take away from it is that our freshmen now understand what every Friday and Saturday night will look like starting in about two weeks.”

Dingman compared Iowa State to “just another Big Ten team” who picked up on Iowa’s weaknesses and took advantage of their mistakes.

UI junior middle blocker Mallory Husz deemed Friday the “worst defensive game” of the season, as the Hawkeyes only posted one successful block versus the Cyclones’ 11.

“Their biggest asset was that we didn’t really play defense,” Husz said. “It was all our errors.”

Dingman added that her squads’ passing was weaker than expected, and they spent the week preparing for Iowa State’s tough serves. She said their preparation just “didn’t translate” on the court Friday.

Indirect passes limited Dailey’s setting options, which ultimately led to the Hawkeyes making predictable plays. Overall, Dingman just said her team was “out of system” for most of the match, while Iowa State remained in their zone.

Still, Dingman highlighted the positives of the match, noting freshman Rachael Bedell’s seven kills on the outside. Dingman said she was glad to see Bedell keep swinging, even after errors. Freshman libero Bethany Yeager carried the team in digs with 13.

Team captain Megan Eskew, who picked up the second-most outside kills for the Hawkeyes, said she is writing this match off as a learning experience for her team, and hopes they can pick up the pieces for their match against Drake on Sept. 14.

“The more teams like Iowa State we encounter, the better we’ll play them,” Eskew said. “Tonight was a lesson learned, and next time will be a different story.”

Iowa returns to action Sept. 14 when it travels to Des Moines to face undefeated Drake.