Hawkeyes Aim East for Weekend Contests

Oct. 13, 2010

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The University of Iowa volleyball team continues its three-game road swing Friday at Ohio State. The Buckeyes host the Hawkeye at 6 p.m. CT inside St. John Arena.

Iowa concludes its three-game conference road trip Saturday at No. 9 Penn State. The three-time defending NCAA Champion Nittany Lions host the Hawkeyes at 6 p.m. inside Rec Hall.

Both weekend matches will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com. Fans interested in a live audio and video stream should visit BigTenNetwork.com and create a personal profile page. The Big Ten Network is committed to providing Big Ten fans with the best and most coverage of the schools and teams they are most passionate about. BigTenNetwork.com is a subscription based service.

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball on hawkeyesports.com, where play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes Jordan Loperena will call the action live from the campuses of Ohio State and Penn State. This weekend’s action will be broadcast live with audio 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 hawkeyesports.com for links to live stats, blogging and Gametracker.

The Hawkeyes have started four freshmen in a single match three times this season, more than any other Big Ten team. Rachael Bedell, Nikki Dailey, Chante’ Thompson and Bethany Yeager have started at Northern Illinois (9/19), vs. Minnesota (10/6) and at Northwestern (10/8). Yeager has not missed a set while starting every match at the libero position. Dailey has seven starts under her belt and OH Rachael Bedell has started a combined 10 matches, including the last five. Chante’ Thompson made her first career start at Northern Illinois and contributed a career-best six kills against the Huskies.

Three Hawkeyes have started every match this season. Senior MB Becky Walters, junior OH Megan Eskew and freshman libero Bethany Yeager have started each of Iowa’s 15 contests. Walters leads Iowa in kills (146), blocks (47) and service aces (30); Yeager leads Iowa with digs (270) and Eskew leads the team in total attacks (460).

Chante’ Thompson recorded five kills and a career-best four blocks at No. 24 Northwestern last week.

Six Hawkeyes have recorded double-doubles this season, but none more that junior Paige Stevens. Iowa’s setter has posted six double-doubles, all of which were of the assist-dig variety. Stevens’ last double-double (36 assists, 11 digs) came in Iowa’s five-set win over Indiana (10/1).

Senior Becky Walters has 30 service aces in 15 matches. At her current rate, she will finish with 54 service aces, the highest total since Jenny Rees served 55 aces in 1989 and the highest since the inception of rally scoring in 2001. Freshman libero Bethany Yeager is on pace to top the record for digs by an Iowa freshman. Since 1982, only Emily Hiza has led the team in digs as a freshman (472, 2005). Yeager has 270 digs through 15 matches and is pace for 486 saves.

The Hawkeyes rank fourth in the Big Ten in digs per set. Iowa (15.47) is led by freshman libero Bethany Yeager, who picks up 4.66 digs per set, the fourth best total in the conference. 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. 25 in national attendance averaging 1,329 fans through seven 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 12th in the country and third in the conference averaging 0.52 aces per game. Iowa’s middle blocker entered the season with 15 career service aces but has nearly doubled that total with 30 in 2010. She has recorded at least one service ace in 13 of Iowa’s 15 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. In conference games only, Iowa ranks No. 4 in aces per set (1.05).

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 PrepVolleyball.com.

Head Coach Russ Rose is in his 32nd second season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program. Rose has won a total of four NCAA Championships, including the last three, and 13 Big Ten titles. Penn State is led by senior Blair Brown and freshman Deja McClendon. Brown leads the Nittany Lions with 205 kills while the freshman outside hitter is right behind her with 200 kills. Iowa has not defeated the Nittany Lions in 39 meetings. In 2010, the Hawkeyes stole the third set, 26-24, to end Penn State’s consecutive set streak. The Nittany Lions had previously won 141 consecutive regular season sets.

Head Coach Geoff Carlston is in his third season at Ohio State. He directed the Buckeyes to a fourth place tie (12-8) in the Big Ten in 2009 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship, finishing with a 25-10 overall record. The Buckeyes are led by senior Katie Dull. The Buckeyes’ outside hitter leads Ohio State in both points (4.24) and kills (3.55) per set this season and ranks second in digs at 2.02. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, 49-9. Ohio State swept the season series a year ago. Iowa’s last win over Ohio State was a four-set victory in Columbus, OH, in 2008.

Senior Becky Walters and junior Megan Eskew are team captains for the 2010 season. Walters, a fifth-year senior from Parkersburg, IA, leads Iowa with 30 service aces and 47 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. Walters and Eskew have started every match this season.

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).