National Stage Awaits Hawkeyes

Oct. 4, 2010

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The University of Iowa volleyball team hosts No. 16 Minnesota Wednesday at 6:06 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes and Gophers will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (HD). Dan Kelly will deliver the play-by-play while Megan Bower provides color commentary. Admission is $3 for adults. Youth 18 and younger and UI students with a valid ID are admitted free.

Iowa begins a three-game conference road trip Friday at No. 24 Northwestern. The Wildcats host the Hawkeyes at 7 p.m. inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Wednesday’s match with the Golden Gophers will be Iowa’s first of four appearances on the Big Ten Network. Each of Iowa’s contests versus 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.

Wednesday’s contest versus Minnesota will be broadcast live on KXIC (AM 800). Voice of Iowa volleyball Jordan Loperena will call the action live from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball on, where play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes Jordan Loperena will call the action live from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This weekend’s action will be broadcast live with audio and video 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. Former Hawkeye Katie Kennedy operates the blog for Iowa’s home games and manager Melissa Brockway hosts the blog on Hawkeye road trips. Fans can also follow the action with live stats. Visit the Iowa volleyball page at for links to live stats, blogging and Gametracker.

The Gophers and Hawkeyes rank third and fourth, respectively, in the Big Ten in digs per set. Iowa (15.63) is led by freshman libero Bethany Yeager, who picks up 4.73 digs per set, the fourth best total in the conference. Minnesota’s (15.84) Jessica Granquist leads the Big Ten averaging 5.07. Granquist and Yeager are the only Big Ten players to record at least two 30-plus digs performances. Yeager recorded a career-best 33 digs against Creighton (9/4), a number that ties for the highest single-match total in the Big Ten this season and the sixth-highest total in program history.

Five times this season Iowa has played into the fifth set. The Hawkeyes came out on top in four of the five matches, including Friday’s 3-2 win over Indiana. 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.

Iowa currently ranks No. 24 in national attendance averaging 1,382 fans through six 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.

Hawkeye senior Becky Walters ranks third in the conference averaging 0.50 aces per game. Iowa’s middle blocker entered the season with 15 career service aces but has nearly doubled that total with 26 in 2010. She has recorded at least one service ace in 11 of Iowa’s 13 contests. Since the inception of rally scoring in 2001, the school record for service aces in a season is 36, set by Sara Meyermann in 2001.

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 against the Huskies. Bethany Yeager has not missed a set while starting every match at the libero position. Nikki Dailey has been the starting setter four times and OH Rachael Bedell has started a combined eight matches, including the last three.

The Hawkeyes have four 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

Bethany Yeager leads Iowa and ranks fourth in the conference averaging 4.73 digs per set.

The Golden Gophers are led by 15th-year head coach Mike Herbert, who guided the Gophers to their third Final Four appearance in 2009, and sophomore Tabitha Love, who leads Minnesota and ranks fifth in the Big Ten in kills (223). The Gophers own a 30-game winning streak vs. Iowa and lead the all-time series, 56-12. Iowa’s last win vs. Minnesota came in 1995, a 3-1 win in Iowa City.

The Wildcats are led by 11th-year head coach Keylor Chen and a pair of veteran front row attackers. Senior Naomi Johnson leads Northwestern with a team-best 189 kills. Graduate student Sabel Moffett is a close second with 180 kills and leads the Wildcats with 88 blocks. Northwestern leads the all-time series 33-26-1. The teams split the season series a year ago, with each team defending its home court. Iowa’s last win in Evanston was a five-set contest in 2008.

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 serve as team captains for the 2010 season. Walters, a fifth-year senior from Parkersburg, IA, leads Iowa with 24 service aces and ranks second with 42 total blocks. 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.