Big Ten Play Begins at Michigan, Michigan State

Sept. 22, 2010

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The University of Iowa volleyball team opens conference play this weekend with trips to Ann Arbor, Mich., and East Lansing, Mich. The Hawkeyes visit the Wolverines at 6 p.m. Friday at Cliff Keen Arena before taking on the Spartans Saturday at 6 p.m. inside the Breslin Center.

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball on, where play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes Jordan Loperena will call the action live from the campuses of Michigan and Michigan State. This weekend’s action will be broadcast live with audio only via Hawkeye All-Access, a subscription service committed to providing quality coverage of Hawkeye athletic events.

Live stats and live blogging will be available for every match throughout the season. 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 for links to live audio, blogging and Gametracker.

The Hawkeyes will host Indiana Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. but has been moved ahead one hour to accommodate the Oct. 2 home football game.

Iowa currently ranks No. 21 in national attendance, averaging 1,465 fans through four home contests. Iowa threatened the school record Sept. 10 against Iowa State when 2,787 fans entered Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch the first event of the 2010 Cy-Hawk Series. The attendance figure was short of the record 3,102 set vs. Penn State in 2009. The Hawkeyes ranked 23rd in national attendance a year ago and have set season attendance records in each of Dingman’s first two seasons.

Head Coach Sharon Dingman is 2-0 in conference openers since taking over the Hawkeyes in 2008. Dingman topped Wisconsin, 3-0, in her Big Ten debut in 2008 in Iowa City. Dingman then bested the Badgers, 3-1, in Madison to kick off the 2009 season.

The Hawkeyes will make four appearances on national television this season. Each of Iowa’s contests versus No. 12 Minnesota (10/6, 10/27) and the home matches against Northwestern (10/30) and Penn State (11/26) will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. All four matches will be broadcast in high-definition.

The 22nd-ranked Wolverines have won nine straight matches since suffering their lone setback of the season at Toledo, 3-2 (8/28). Michigan is led by 12th-year coach Mark Rosen and outside hitter Alex Hunt, who was named Big Ten Player of the Week (Sept. 20) and ranks second in the Big Ten averaging 4.41 kills per set. Michigan leads the all-time series 30-23 and has won the last five meetings. Iowa has not won at Michigan since topping the Wolverines, 3-2, in 2000.

Michigan State is led by Head Coach Cathy George, who is in her sixth season at the helm of the Spartans. Senior Megan Schatzle leads the Michigan State offensive attack averaging 3.35 kills per set, the 10th best total in the conference. Michigan State leads the all-time series, 34-24. The two teams split the season series in 2009, with each team defending their home court. The Hawkeyes have not won at East Lansing since rallying from a 2-0 deficit to win, 3-2, in 2000.

The Hawkeyes started four freshmen in the nonconference finale at Northern Illinois. Chante’ Thompson made her first career start and contributed a career-best six kills. Bethany Yeager has started every match this season at the libero position. Nikki Dailey has been the starting setter for four consecutive matches and Rachael Bedell has started a combined five matches.

The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in digs per set (16.83) thanks in large part to freshman Bethany Yeager. Iowa’s 5-7 libero leads the Big Ten averaging 4.86 digs per set. Her 33 digs against Creighton ties for the highest single-match total in the Big Ten this season and the sixth highest total in program history.

Four of Iowa’s nine preseason matches were in five sets. The Hawkeyes came out on top in three of the four matches. The Hawkeyes rallied from two sets down to top Southern Illinois (8/28), nearly lost a two-set advantage before topping Creighton (9/4) and rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat Saint Louis (9/4). The Hawkeyes lone five-set loss came at Drake (9/14). Iowa was 2-1 in five-set matches last season.

Junior Paige Stevens dished a career-high 59 assists in Iowa’s 3-2 win over Creighton (9/4), the second-highest individual assist total in the Big Ten.

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 represents a 2010 recruiting class that earned Highest Honorable Mention by

Marcia E. Hamilton Active Ankle Challenge Freshman Bethany Yeager was named tournament MVP at the Marcia E. Hamilton Active Ankle Challenge in St. Louis, Mo. (Sept. 3-4). The 5-7 libero averaged 5.3 digs per set to lead Iowa to its second tournament championship in as many weekends. Junior Mallory Husz was named to the all-tournament team.

Hawkeye Challenge Four Hawkeyes earned all-tournament honors at the 2010 Hawkeye Challenge, including Husz, who was named tournament MVP. The 6-0 middle blocker averaged 12 kills and 6.7 blocks as Iowa swept through the three-match challenge. 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.

For the first time in program history, the Iowa volleyball team 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. The Hawkeyes 5-1 start matches the second-best start in program history. Only the 1978, 1988 and 2009 teams started the season with a better record (6-0).

Senior Becky Walters and junior Megan Eskew will serve as 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 to the court with a bang by earning all-tournament honors at the season-opening Hawkeye Challenge.

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.