College Adjustment

Sept. 15, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa volleyball freshman Alex Lovell isn’t related to the famous astronaut Jim Lovell, but that hasn’t stopped her from performing out of this world on the court.

Lovell stepped on to the court for the Hawkeyes for the first time Aug. 26 against Central Michigan in Iowa City. The Leonard, Mich., native made an impressive debut in the season-opener, tallying a team-high 14 kills in Iowa’s five-set win.

“It was an adrenaline rush to get out there for the first point and just swing away,” Lovell said. “The team was there supporting me and was behind me. That really helped me get rid of the nerves.”

After the opening weekend in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes traveled to Ames for the Iowa State Challenge. In her first collegiate road match, Lovell collected 16 kills to help Iowa knock off Arizona State and followed with another 14 in a victory over Southern Miss.

Lovell credits her youth club experience in helping her succeed on the road.

“In the Arizona State match, we were playing a team on a neutral court,” Lovell said. “It wasn’t much different than club ball. I traveled a lot with my club, so I was used to playing at a different site, traveling for games, stuff like that. It was just fun to go out and play.”

Lovell wasn’t satisfied with 16 kills as a career-high figure, so she recorded an eye-popping 21 against Oakland last weekend. She became the first Hawkeye freshman since Catherine Smale in 2005 to reach 20 kills in a match.

The attacking mentality Lovell had against Oakland is one she hopes to replicate this weekend in the final non-conference tournament of the season, as the Hawkeyes travel to New York for the Columbia Invitational.

“We want to go undefeated in the last non-conference tournament,” Lovell said. “If we keep up our intensity, we will do that. Personally, I just want to keep the same intensity level as I had in the Oakland match.”

Lovell has played in 32 of Iowa’s 36 sets this season and leads the team with 92 kills (2.88 per set). She is also fifth on the team with 42 digs. Her numbers don’t suggest that it was a tough adjustment to Division I volleyball, but Lovell has worked hard to compete at the highest level.

“It’s definitely a lot faster than high school or club volleyball,” Lovell said. “I just immersed myself in volleyball. That’s about all I could do to get adjusted.”

The adjustment Lovell has made on the court seems to be paying off, but she is trying to make the same adjustments off the court as well. The pharmacy major isn’t finding much free time between class and volleyball.

“It still all feels new,” Lovell said. “I’ve been here for about six weeks, and I’m still adjusting. We have our first big exams coming up, so balancing time between practice, lifting and studying has been tough. I don’t really have time for naps or hanging out, but it’s been fun.”

Lovell looks to have made a great adjustment from prep to Division I volleyball. If she makes those same adjustments off the court, she will probably be able to take that much-needed nap in the near future.