Hawkeyes to be featured twice this week on BTN

Oct. 25, 2010

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The University of Iowa volleyball team visits Minneapolis to face No. 20 Minnesota Wednesday night inside The Sports Pavilion. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. The match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (HD). Dan Kelly will deliver the play-by-play while Megan Bower provides color commentary.

Iowa returns home Saturday to host No. 24 Northwestern at 7 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Admission is $3 for adults and free for UI students with a valid ID and youth 18 years and younger. The match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (HD). Lisa Byington will deliver the play-by-play while Megan Bower provides color commentary.

The Hawkeyes will make a total of four appearances on the Big Ten Network this season. Iowa fell to Minnesota 3-0 on the BTN (Oct. 6). In addition to its two appearances this week, the Hawkeyes will host Penn State on the BTN Friday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m.

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 Sports Pavilion Wednesday night. Wednesday’s action will be broadcast live with audio via Hawkeye All-Access, a subscription service committed to providing quality coverage of Hawkeye athletic events. Saturday’s contest will be streamed live with both audio and video via Hawkeye All-Access.

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.

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 327 digs through 19 matches and is pace for 499 saves. She has picked up at least 20 digs seven times this season, including 24 vs. Wisconsin (10/22), 32 vs. Indiana (10/1), 21 vs. Saint Louis (9/4), 33 vs. Creighton (9/4), 20 vs. Wake Forest (9/3), 21 vs. Green Bay (8/29) and 23 vs. Southern Illinois (8/28).

Hawkeye freshman Rachael Bedell has made a name for herself this season by attacking the net, but nearing the halfway point of the conference season, the Plano, TX, native began contributing in other areas. After recording a career-high five blocks vs. Wisconsin (10/22), Iowa’s outside hitter picked up a career-best seven digs and served her second career service ace vs. Illinois (10/23).

Senior Becky Walters has 31 service aces in 19 matches. At her current rate, she will finish with 47 service aces, the highest total since Jenny Rees served 55 aces in 1989 and the highest since the inception of rally scoring in 2001.

Rachael Bedell set a career best with five blocks vs. Wisconsin Oct. 22.

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 eight starts under her belt and OH Rachael Bedell has started 13 matches. 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 19 contests. Walters leads Iowa in kills (175), blocks (68) and service aces (31); Yeager leads Iowa with 327 digs and Eskew leads the team in total attacks (571).

Six Hawkeyes have recorded double-doubles this season, but none more than junior Paige Stevens. Iowa’s setter has posted seven double-doubles, all of which were of the assist-dig variety. Stevens’ last double-double (25 assists, 12 digs) came in Iowa’s five-set loss to Illinois (10/23). Other Hawkeyes to record double-doubles include Megan Eskew (4), Nikki Dailey (3), Mallory Husz (1), Tiffany Nilges (1) and Becky Walters (1).

The Hawkeyes rank fourth in the Big Ten in digs per set. Iowa (14.97) is led by freshman libero Bethany Yeager, who picks up 4.54 digs per set, the fourth best total in the conference. Yeager recorded a career-best 33 digs against Creighton (9/4),the second highest single-match total in the Big Ten this season and the sixth-highest total in program history.

Six times this season Iowa has played into the fifth set. The Hawkeyes have been victorious in four of the six 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 have lost five-set decisions at Drake (9/14) and vs. Wisconsin (10/22). Iowa was 2-1 in five-set matches last season.

Iowa ranks No. 25 in national attendance averaging 1,337 fans through nine 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 25th in the country and fourth in the conference averaging 0.43 aces per game. Iowa’s middle blocker entered the season with 15 career service aces but has more than doubled that total with 31 in 2010. She has recorded at least one service ace in 14 of Iowa’s 19 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.

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).

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 per set (3.78). The Gophers own a 31-game winning streak vs. Iowa and lead the all-time series, 57-12. Minnesota topped Iowa 3-0 on Oct. 6 in Iowa City. Iowa’s last win vs. Minnesota came in 1995, a 3-1 win in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes’ last win at Minnesota was a five-set victory Oct. 3, 1990. Iowa rallied from a two-set deficit to top the Gophers, 3-2.

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 232 kills. Graduate student Sabel Moffett is a close second with 225 kills and leads the Wildcats with 115 blocks. Northwestern leads the all-time series 34-26-1. The teams split the season series a year ago, with each team defending its home court. Iowa swept the Wildcats in Iowa City on Oct. 23 (25-23, 27-25, 25-21).