Midweek and Weekend Action Awaits Hawkeyes

Oct. 18, 2011

Weekly Release

The University of Iowa volleyball team travels to Lincoln, Neb., for its first ever conference matchup with fourth-ranked Nebraska. The Cornhuskers host Iowa Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the NU Coliseum. The Hawkeyes return home to face Northwestern on Saturday. Iowa hosts the Wildcats at 7 p.m. on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Admission to the Northwestern contest is $3 for adults and free for children 18 and younger, and UI students with a valid ID.

Both the Nebraska and Northwestern matches will be streamed live from the NU Coliseum and Carver-Hawkeye Arena via Hawkeye All-Access, a subscription service committed to providing quality coverage of Hawkeye athletic events. Ian Martin, the voice of Iowa volleyball, will have the call live from both locations.

Saturday’s match vs. Northwestern will air locally on AM-800 KXIC. The voice of Iowa volleyball, Ian Martin, will have the call live from Carver-Hawkeye Arena beginning at 6:45 p.m.

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. 4 Nebraska (Oct. 19)
Head Coach: John Cook (12th season, 351-30)
2011 Record/Conference: 15-1, 8-0 (tied for 1st)
Top Performers: Gina Mancuso, Jr., OH, leads Nebraska and ranks eighth in Big Ten averaging 3.58 kills per set; Morgan Broekhuis, So., RS, ranks second on the team with 195 kills and leads the team with 63 total blocks.
Series Record/Last Meeting: NU leads 14-0/1999, NU 3-0
Streak: Nebraska, 14
Iowa’s last meeting at Nebraska: 1993, NU 3-0

Head Coach: Keylor Chan (12th season, 168-192)
2011 Record/Conference: 11-7, 3-3 (tied for 5th)
Top Performers: Stephanie Holthus, So., OH, leads team and ranks fourth in Big Ten averaging 4.13 kills per set; Katie Dutchman, Fr., MB, ranks second in Big Ten averaging 1.32 blocks per set and third in total blocks (91).
Series Record/Last Meeting: NW leads 35-26-1/2010, @NW 3-0
Streak: Northwestern, 3
Iowa’s last win: 3-0, Oct. 23, 2009 (Iowa City)

Iowa improved to 3-1 in five set matches following a 3-2 over Indiana Oct. 7. 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).

Assistant coach Ben Boldt and director of volleyball operations Angie Boldt will make their first appearance in the NU Coliseum since leaving the Husker program in 2006. Ben Boldt was a staff assistant at Nebraska from 2001-06 and Angie Boldt was a student worker in the volleyball administrative office from 2003-06. Nebraska won the Big XII title in every year the Boldts were on staff. In the Boldts’ final season at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers finished 33-1 en route to the 2006 NCAA Championship.

Sophomore Nikki Dailey and freshman Emily Yanny each had a successful return to their home state of Wisconsin last Sunday. Dailey, a native of Franklin, Wis., dished a match-best 27 assists and added 11 digs to earn her team-leading seventh double-double of the season. Yanny, a native of New Berlin, Wis., slammed five kills and recorded a .400 attack percentage, both career-highs in Big Ten competition.

The Hawkeyes will have another shot at a ranked opponent Wednesday night at No. 4 Nebraska. 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 196 kills, averaging a team-high 2.76 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. Bedell also came off the bench and led Iowa with six kills at Minnesota (10/14). She was inserted back into the starting lineup and finished with six kills at Wisconsin (10/16). She has five starts in 15 appearances this season.

Iowa’s 95 service aces are the fourth highest total in the conference. Sophomore Nikki Dailey leads the Hawkeyes with 26 services aces. Her 0.34 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 third in the Big Ten with 328 total digs. Her 4.26 average leads the Hawkeyes and ranks No. 7 in the conference. Yeager picked up 4.36 digs per set last season, the fourth highest total in the Big Ten.

Senior Mallory Husz averages a team-high 1.05 blocks per set, the ninth 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 third-highest single match total in the conference this season. 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.

Sophomore Nikki Dailey recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 27 kills and 11 digs against Minnesota (10/14). She now has one more double-double than senior Megan Eskew. 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 (3) have also recorded double-doubles this season.

Senior Tiffany Nilges has started the last 15 matches as Iowa’s right side hitter. During that stretch, Nilges has averaged 2.64 kills per set, 2.26 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 near the end 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. 4 Nebraska).

Three Hawkeyes have started all 21 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 50. Yeager has not missed a start in her collegiate career.

The Big Ten has seven teams in the Oct. 17 AVCA top 25 poll, more than any other conference. Illinois is the nation’s top-ranked team, while Nebraska (4) and Penn State (9) also occupy a spot among the top 10. Purdue (12), Minnesota (14), Michigan (21) and Ohio State (23) 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. Husz leads the Hawkeyes in total blocks (64) and Eskew ranks second in both kills (189) and digs (228).

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.