Weekend Action Includes BTN Matchup

Oct. 11, 2011

Weekly Release

The University of Iowa volleyball team travels to Minnesota and Wisconsin for a pair of conference matches this weekend. The Hawkeyes face No. 14 Minnesota Friday at 7 p.m. inside The Sports Pavilion before facing Wisconsin Sunday at 1 p.m. in the UW Field House.

Sunday’s contest at Wisconsin will be televised on a same-day tape delay by BTN. Mike Wolf and Megan Bower will have the call from the UW Field House. The match will air on the BTN at 5 p.m. CT.

Sunday’s match at Wisconsin will air locally on AM-800 KXIC. The voice of Iowa volleyball, Ian Martin, will have the call live from the UW Field House. Fans can also follow Hawkeye volleyball at hawkeyesports.com. Both the Minnesota and Wisconsin matches will be streamed live from The Pavilion and the UW Field House via Hawkeye All-Access, a subscription service committed to providing quality coverage of Hawkeye athletic events.

Friday’s contest at Minnesota will be streamed live on hawkeyesports.com via the BTN Digital Network. Hawkeye All-Access subscribers can watch live video streams of UI events on the BTN Digital Network at no extra charge.

Live stats and live blogging are available this weekend at the Hawkeye Service Center at hawkeyesports.com. The Hawkeye Service Center is a one-stop webpage that features live stats, Gametracker, and inside information and interactive content via the Official Iowa Volleyball Blog. Former Hawkeye Katie Kennedy and manager Melissa Brockway are the official hosts of the 2011 blog.

No. 14 MINNESOTA (Oct. 14)
Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (1st season, 10-5, 3-0)
2011 Record/Conference: 10-5, 3-3 (tied for 5th)
Top Performers: Mia Tabberson, Jr., S, leads the Big Ten with 12.02 assists per set; Ashley Wittman, So., OH, ranks second in Big Ten with 5.18 points per set.
Series Record/Last Meeting: UM leads 57-12/UM 3-0 (Minneapolis)
Streak: Minnesota, 31
Iowa’s last win: Sept. 22, 1995, 3-1 (Iowa City)
Iowa’s last win at Minnesota: 1990, 3-1

Head Coach: Pete Waite (13th season, 283-122)
2011 Record/Conference: 11-7, 3-3 (tied for 5th)
Top Performers: Annemarie Hickey, So., L, leads the Big Ten averaging 4.84 digs per set and ranks seventh in conference with 0.37 aces per set; Alexis Mitchell, Jr., MB, ranks fifth in Big Ten with a .370 attack percentage.
Series Record/Last Meeting: UW leads 42-20-1/UW 3-1 (2011)
Streak: Wisconsin, 3
Iowa’s last win: Sept. 23, 2009, 3-1 (Madison)

Head Coach Sharon Dingman earned a 3-0 decision in her Big Ten coaching debut Sept. 26, 2008 against Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes topped the No. 18 Badgers 25-23, 25-19, 25-10. Three current Hawkeyes were on the Iowa roster, but none saw action (Mallory Husz, Fr.; Tiffany Nilges, Fr.; Megan Eskew, So.). The Hawkeyes also opened the 2009 conference season with a win over Wisconsin (3-1 in Madison). Dingman is 2-4 vs. Wisconsin as Iowa’s head coach.

Iowa improved to 3-1 in five set matches following last Friday’s 3-2 over Indiana. All four five-set matches have been at home. They include wins over Central Michigan (8/26), Oakland (9/10) and Indiana (10/7), and a loss vs. Saint Louis (8/27).

The Hawkeyes will have another shot at a ranked opponent Friday night at No. 14 Minnesota. The Hawkeyes have defeated at least one top 25 team in each of Sharon Dingman’s three seasons. Iowa’s top 25 victories since 2008 include: vs. No. 18 Wisconsin (3-0, 2008); vs. No. 18 Michigan State (3-0, 2009); vs. No. 16 Michigan (3-1, 2010). The Hawkeyes are 0-4 vs. ranked opponents so far this year (No. 19 Iowa State, No. 24 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State, No. 17 Michigan).

Freshman Alex Lovell has made a home in Iowa City and on top of Iowa’s box scores. Lovell leads the Hawkeyes with 191 kills, averaging a team-high 2.81 per set. Her 19 kills vs. Ohio State (9/23) were the most by a Hawkeye freshman vs. a Big Ten opponent since Catherine Smale totaled 21 kills vs. Michigan State in 2005. Lovell has recorded double-digit kills in eight matches, the second highest total on the team (Eskew, 9).

After totaling 189 kills as a freshman in 2010, sophomore Rachael Bedell may be back on track in 2011. She had just five total kills in four conference games entering the third set against Purdue (10/8), but she nearly doubled that total with nine kills in 16 swings vs. the Boilermakers. She also picked up four digs in the third frame.

Iowa’s 89 service aces are the fourth highest total in the conference. Sophomore Nikki Dailey leads the Hawkeyes with 26 services aces. Her 0.37 per set average ranks sixth in the conference. The Hawkeyes served a season-high 11 aces in their 3-1 win over St. John’s (9/17).

Sophomore Bethany Yeager ranks second in the Big Ten with 310 total digs. Her 4.37 average leads the Hawkeyes and ranks No. 6 in the conference. Yeager picked up 4.36 digs per set last season, the fourth highest total in the Big Ten. She averaged a league-best 5.0 digs per set in the opening weekend of conference play.

Senior Mallory Husz averages a team-high 1.07 blocks per set, the eighth highest total in the Big Ten. Husz matched her career best with 11 total blocks in Iowa’s 3-1 win over Southern Miss. The 11 stuffs are the second-highest single match total in the conference. Husz totaled 16 blocks, including eight in the title match against St. John’s, at the Columbia Invitational. She added 23 total kills in the four-match tournament to earn MVP honors.

Senior Megan Eskew and sophomore Nikki Dailey each have a team-high six double-doubles. Eskew’s double-doubles come in the form of kills-digs, while Dailey uses the assist-dig combination to accomplish the feat. Eskew’s most impressive effort came in Iowa’s five-set win over Oakland when she recorded a career high 19 kills and a career best 18 digs. Dailey had a career-high 60 assists in the same match. Mallory Husz (1), Alex Lovell (2) and Tiffany Nilges (2) have also recorded double-doubles this season.

Senior Tiffany Nilges has started the last 13 matches as Iowa’s right side hitter. During that stretch, Nilges has averaged 2.64 kills per set, 2.07 digs per set, and set career highs in kills (16 vs. Oakland), hitting percentage (.800 vs. Chicago State), and service aces (2 vs. St. John’s).

SEVEN in 20
The Hawkeyes are in the midst of a 20-day stretch in which they play seven matches. The run started with a Sept. 30 match at Michigan and runs through the Oct. 19 date with Nebraska. Four of the seven dates are against nationally ranked competition (at then-No. 17 Michigan, vs. No. 11 Purdue, at No. 14 Minnesota and at No. 5 Nebraska).

Three Hawkeyes have started all 19 of Iowa’s matches. They include Megan Eskew, Bethany Yeager and Nikki Dailey. Eskew and Yeager started all 29 matches last season, extending their streak of consecutive starts to 48. Yeager has not missed a start in her collegiate career.

The Big Ten has seven teams in the Oct. 10 AVCA top 25 poll, more than any other conference. Illinois is the nation’s top-ranked team, while Nebraska (5) and Penn State (9) also occupy a spot among the top 10. Purdue (11), Minnesota (14), Michigan (20) and Ohio State (24) round out the top 25.

Seven Hawkeyes earned all-tournament honors following Iowa’s four preseason tournaments. They include Bethany Yeager (Hawkeye Challenge, Iowa State Challenge, Iowa Invitational); Nikki Dailey (Hawkeye Challenge, Iowa Invitational); Alex Lovell (Iowa Invitational, Columbia Invitational); Megan Eskew (Iowa State Invitational); Mallory Husz (MVP Columbia Invitational); Tiffany Nilges (MVP Iowa Invitational); Chante’ Thompson (Columbia Invitational).

Seniors Megan Eskew and Mallory Husz have been voted team captains for the 2011 season. In 2010, Husz led Iowa in kills per set (2.37) and ranked second in total blocks (93), while Eskew led the Hawkeyes in total attacks (800) and was one of three Hawkeyes to start every set. Eskew was also a captain in 2010.

For the second straight year, Iowa’s recruiting class earned Highest Honorable Mention honors from PrepVolleyball.com. The honor is bestowed to those schools that just missed being ranked inside the top 30. Iowa’s seven-person 2011 recruiting class includes one sophomore and six freshmen

Sophomores Rachael Bedell and Bethany Yeager each earned the opportunity to compete for USA Volleyball during the 2011 summer. Bedell helped lead the Women’s Junior A2-Europe Program to a gold medal at the European Global Challenge July 14-22. Yeager helped Team USA grab bronze in the International Junior Division of the USA High Performance Championships in Tucson, Ariz., July 26-29.