Oct. 2, 2010
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By MICHELE DANNO
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s quality over quantity that defines the leadership of the 2010 University of Iowa volleyball team. With one senior and four starting freshmen, the squad has faced setbacks because of inexperience on the court. Although they are few in number, it was the veterans who guided the team to their first conference victory against Indiana on Friday.
|Iowa vs. Indiana||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th|
|Indiana (0-3, 12-3)||18||25||18||25||15|
|Iowa (1-2, 6-6)||25||23||25||19||17|
|Kills: Becky Walters (UI) 19 | Benson (IU) 18|
|Assists: Paige Stevens (UI) 36 | Chaudoin (IU) 38|
|Digs: Bethany Yeager (UI) 32 | Haverly (IU) 18|
As veterans, they know the importance of keeping composure in tough Big Ten matchups, which helped them to calm the nerves of their younger counterparts.
“Megan is so good in the locker room, and she keeps them thinking about the right things,” UI head coach Sharon Dingman said. “Mal kept the team nice and calm, even as a first-year starter. On the floor, Becky sets such a great example. The focus has been on the youth this year because we only have one senior, but she is mighty valuable.”
Going into the match with five straight losses including two conference losses to Michigan and Michigan State last weekend, the teams’ morale seemed questionable. But Dingman said her players — especially the veterans — recognized the importance of beating Indiana to avoid starting Big Ten play with a 0-3 record.
Dingman said her leaders didn’t let dwell on the losses, and she highlighted how positive and focused they were in practice in the week leading up to Indiana.
“The older players really took over when we needed them to,” Dingman said. “Megan and Becky really came out strong, and we could count on them for everything.”
Eskew had nine outside kills for the Hawkeyes, while Husz had 12 and Walters boasted 19 in the middle.
Walters — one of only three Hawkeyes to compete in Big Ten matches before this season — said the squad is working on fundamentals that are important for conference play. Using less predictable shots and outsmarting opponents will help them succeed against conference rivals.
“The freshmen get too nervous to take chances,” Walters said. “We constantly need to remind them to do that — to be risky and follow through. We just need to keep them positive.
Husz agreed, adding the importance of leading by example and remaining calm in “tight situations,” such as the extra-point battle with Indiana in the fifth set.
She said she hopes to keep this momentum into Sunday’s home matchup against Purdue. A win over the Boilermakers will even Iowa’s conference record at 2-2 and give the Hawkeyes momentum heading into Wednesday’s matchup with Minnesota on the Big Ten Network (Oct. 6, 6 p.m.).