Home for the Holidays on the Big Ten Network

Nov. 23, 2010

Complete Release in PDF Format

The University of Iowa volleyball team hosts No. 7 Penn State Friday at 1 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (HD). Nara Weng will deliver the play-by-play, while former Hawkeye Christina Meister provides color commentary. Admission is $3 for adults and free for youth 18 and younger and UI students with a valid ID.

The Hawkeyes close the regular season hosting Ohio State Saturday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, free for youth 18 and younger and UI students with a valid ID.

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball at hawkeyesports.com, where play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes Jordan Loperena will call the action live from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Friday’s match 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 feature a live audio and video stream.

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.

Friday’s contest marks Iowa’s fourth appearance this season on the Big Ten Network. Iowa is still looking for its first win on the BTN. The Hawkeyes have twice lost to Minnesota, once in Carver-Hawkeye Arena (3-0, 10/6) and once inside The Sports Pavilion (3-0, 10/27). Northwestern swept the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Oct. 30. The Hawkeyes were undefeated on the Big Ten Network in 2009. Iowa defeated Wisconsin 3-1 in the conference opener in Madison and won a five-set thriller against the Badgers Nov. 11 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Christina Meister had a game-high 30 digs in the contest.

Hawkeye senior Becky Walters will be honored immediately prior to the Ohio State match. Walters, the Hawkeye’s lone senior, is a fifth-year senior who leads Iowa in blocks (93) and service aces (36). She has totaled 541 kills and blocks in 84 career matches.

Senior Becky Walters broke the single match record for attack percentage (min. 10 attempts) when she hit .818 vs. Drake, Sept. 12, 2009. She ranks 15th in program history in all-time attack percentage (.220) and 14th all-time in total blocks (248).

Becky Walters has a record-tying 36 service aces this season.

Hawkeye middle blockers Becky Walters and Mallory Husz have been mirror images of each other in the box score. Husz leads Iowa with 222 kills, while Walters ranks second on the team with 220. The duo also ranks 1-2 in total blocks. Walters leads the Hawkeyes with 93, while Husz ranks second with 91.

Junior Tiffany Nilges set a career-high with five blocks at Wisconsin (11/20). The Tripoli, IA, native also collected four kills against the Badgers to surpass the 200 career kills mark. Nilges, who has started each of Iowa’s last 12 matches, has 203 kills in 59 career matches.

Penn State comes to Iowa City sitting atop the Big Ten standings, one game ahead of Illinois. The Nittany Lions must win Friday and Saturday (at Minnesota) to clinch the outright conference championship. Penn State has won the last seven Big Ten titles.

With Iowa’s 3-1 win over 16th-ranked Michigan (11/13), the Hawkeyes have now defeated a ranked team in every season since Dingman arrived in 2008. The Hawkeyes defeated No. 18 Wisconsin, 3-0, in Dingman’s 2008 Big Ten debut and swept No. 18 Michigan State, 3-0, in 2009.

Junior Mallory Husz and senior Becky Walters both topped the 200 kills plateau against Michigan State Nov. 12. Husz leads the team with a career-best 222 kills, while Walters ranks second with a career-best 220 kills.

500 CLUB
Senior Becky Walters picked up her 500th career kill Oct. 30 versus Northwestern. The redshirt senior entered the contest with 497 career kills and finished the match with a team-high eight kills. Walters has recorded a career-high 220 kills in 2010.

Freshman libero Bethany Yeager is on pace to become the first freshman since 2005 to lead the team in digs as a freshman (Emily Hiza – 472). Yeager has 430 digs through 27 matches and is pace for 462 saves. She has picked up at least 20 digs eight 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), 23 vs. Southern Illinois (8/28) and 25 at Illinois (11/19).

Freshman Bethany Yeager has started each of Iowa’s 27 contests and has appeared in all 99 sets. Iowa’s 5-7 libero is on pace to become the first freshman since 2005 to start every match. In 2005, freshmen Kiley Fister, Emily Hiza and Catherine Smale started each of Iowa’s 33 matches. Hiza set the freshman record for digs, picking up 472 saves (3.87 per set). Yeager currently averages 4.34 digs per set, totaling 430 digs in 99 sets.

Senior Becky Walters has 36 service aces in 27 matches. 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 and matched by Walters this season. At her current rate, she will finish with 39 service aces, the highest total since Lisa Dockray served 43 aces in 1995. Walters ranks fourth in the conference averaging 0.36 aces per game. Iowa’s middle blocker entered the season with 15 career service aces but has more than doubled that total with 36 in 2010.

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 nine starts under her belt, Thompson has started six matches and Bedell has started 19 matches.

Junior Tiffany Nilges surpassed the 200 career kills plateau Nov. 20 at Wisconsin.

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 27 contests. Walters leads Iowa in blocks (93) and service aces (36); Yeager leads Iowa with 430 digs and Eskew leads the team in total attacks (758).

Six Hawkeyes have recorded double-doubles this season, but none more than junior Paige Stevens. Iowa’s setter has posted nine double-doubles, all of which were of the assist-dig variety. Stevens’ last double-double (20 assists, 14 digs) came in Iowa’s 3-1 loss at No. 9 Illinois (11/19). Other Hawkeyes to record double-doubles include Megan Eskew (5), Nikki Dailey (3), Mallory Husz (1), Tiffany Nilges (1) and Becky Walters (1).

The Hawkeyes rank sixth in the Big Ten in digs per set. Iowa (14.53) is led by freshman libero Bethany Yeager, who picks up 4.34 digs per set, the fourth best total in the conference. She is one of only two freshmen listed among the conference’s top 10 leaders in digs per set.

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.

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 390 kills while McClendon ranks second with 323. Iowa has not defeated the Nittany Lions in 40 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. Penn State swept Iowa in the teams’ first meeting this season (10/16).

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 and sophomore Emily Danks. Dull leads Ohio State in kills per set (3.53) while Danks leads the conference with 0.62 aces per set. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series, 50-9. The Buckeyes swept the Hawkeyes in the teams’ first meeting of 2010 (10/15). 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 31 service aces and 74 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.

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 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.