Hawkeyes Hit The Road For First Time In 2012

Aug. 28, 2012

Complete Release

The University of Iowa volleyball team travels to Rochester, Mich., this weekend to compete in the Golden Grizzlies Invitational, hosted by Oakland University. The Hawkeyes open the tournament Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Eastern Illinois. Iowa faces Toledo on Saturday at 9 a.m. before concluding action Saturday at 6 p.m. against host Oakland. All times are central and all matches will be played at the Athletics Center O’rena on the campus of Oakland University.

Live stats will be available throughout the Golden Grizzlies Invitational. Visit hawkeyesports.com and Click on the Gametracker (GT) link found on both the front page and the volleyball schedule page.

Iowa opened its season last weekend in the annual Hawkeye Challenge presented by Comfort Suites. The Hawkeyes hosted Chicago State, South Dakota State, Southeast Missouri and Valparaiso on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the two-day tournament. The Black and Gold finished 3-1 in the tournament. Iowa defeated Chicago State (3-0) and South Dakota State (3-1) on Friday to improve to 2-0. The Hawkeyes dropped a 3-2 decision to Southeast Missouri on Saturday before concluding the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Valparaiso.

Bethany Yeager became the 14th Hawkeye in program history to surpass 1,000 career digs in Iowa’s season-opening sweep of Chicago State. The junior registered a match-high 21 digs in the win. She ranks first in the Big Ten with 86 digs and ranks second in digs per set (5.38). Yeager ranks 13th at Iowa in career digs (1,075).

Juniors Bethany Yeager and Chante’ Thompson were both named to the All-Tournament Team. Yeager registered 86 digs in the four-match tournament and added 12 assists. Thompson notched 38 kills and recorded two career-best matches.

Head Coach: Kate Price (28-37, 3rd season)
2012 Record/Conference: 2-1 overall; 0-0 (OVC)
Series Record/Last Meeting: Iowa leads 4-2/1983 (met twice: Iowa, 3-0, 3-2)

vs. TOLEDO (Sept. 1)
Head Coach: Greg Smith (41-49, 4th season)
2012 Record/Conference: 1-2 overall; 0-0 (MAC)
Series Record/Last Meeting: First Meeting

at OAKLAND (Sept. 1)
Head Coach: Rob Beam (68-78, 6th season)
2012 Record/Conference: 0-3 overall; 0-0 (Summit League)
Series Record/Last Meeting: Iowa leads 2 -0/1993, Iowa, 3-0

Hawkeye sophomores Alessandra Dietz and Alex Lovell were high school teammates (2007-10) at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which is 12 miles from the site of this weekend’s matches in Rochester. The two led Marian to three division championships from 2008-10 and a pair of state titles in 2009 and 2010. Dietz and Lovell played club volleyball with Hawkeye sophomore Erin Leppek. The trio led the 17 team to a national title at the 2010 USA Volleyball National Championships and a fifth place finish at the AAU National Championships.

Three Hawkeyes notched multiple double-doubles during Iowa’s opening weekend of competition. Rachael Bedell (16 kills, 12 digs vs. South Dakota State and 16 kills, 17 digs vs. SEMO) and Nikki Dailey (50 assists, 19 digs vs. SEMO and 45 assists, 12 digs vs. Valparaiso) both recorded two. Alex Lovell led the way, recording three double-doubles (16 kills, 10 digs vs. South Dakota State, 17 kills, 16 digs vs. SEMO and 13 kills, 11 digs vs. Valparaiso).

With the win over Chicago State, head coach Sharon Dingman moved to 5-0 in season openers and 4-1 in home openers since taking over the Iowa program in 2008. Since 1977, the Hawkeyes are 24-12 all-time in season openers and 27-9 all-time in home openers. Iowa has not lost a season opener since 2007 (vs. BYU, 3-2). The Hawkeyes are 3-1 under Dingman in their first game away from Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes hosted the Hawkeye Challenge and make three weekend road trips before beginning their 20-match Big Ten schedule. The entire 33-match schedule includes 18 contests against teams that appeared in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Iowa will play a home-away series with every Big Ten team except Illinois and Northwestern for the second-straight season. The Hawkeyes face the Illini once (at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Nov. 24) and the Wildcats once (at Northwestern, Oct. 21).

The Big Ten is represented by six teams in the AVCA top 25 poll, including three in the top 10. Both are equal to the most of any conference. Defending league champion Nebraska moved to No. 1 overall, followed by Penn State at No. 4 and Purdue (No. 7). Minnesota is No. 16 while Illinois, the 2011 national runner-up, sits at 19. Other top 25 residents include Michigan (No. 22). Ohio State and Michigan State are receiving votes.

After playing its first four matches at home on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa’s match Friday against Eastern Illinois marks the first of 11-straight matches away from Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes have six newcomers on this year’s roster. They include sophomore transfers Alessandra Dietz (Loyola-Marymount, 6-1, MB) and Katie Kelley (Maryland, 5-5, DS), and true freshmen Julianne Blomberg (5-11, DS/OH), Kathleen Dailey (5-11, DS/OH), Erin Radke (6-1, RS) and Anne Yanda (5-11, S). Four newcomers — Dietz, Kelley, Yanda, Radke — saw action over the weekend.

Juniors Bethany Yeager and Nikki Dailey started every match last season. Dailey played in all 123 sets in 2011, while Yeager, an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, has only missed one set in her first three seasons at Iowa (244-of-245).

In 2011, sophomore Alex Lovell led the team in kills and became Iowa’s first freshman since 2005 to surpass 300 kills in a single season, recording 312. Junior Nikki Dailey led the team a year ago in assists (1,152) and service aces (33). Junior Bethany Yeager led Iowa in digs (527) for the second time in as many years.

Three Hawkeyes on the 2012 roster hail from Iowa City: sophomores Kari Mueller and Katie Kelley, and redshirt freshman Alli O’Deen. Mueller competed at City High School while Kelley and O’Deen led West High School to the 2010 state title.

Senior Allison Straumann and juniors Bethany Yeager and Nikki Dailey have been voted team captains for the 2012 season. Straumann, Iowa’s lone senior, has appeared in 44 career matches. Yeager and Dailey both started every match in 2011.

The Hawkeyes have defeated a ranked team in three of Dingman’s four seasons. Iowa will have plenty of opportunities to continue that trend, as seven of their 2012 opponents appear in the AVCA top 25 poll. 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).

Ten Iowa volleyball regular season contests will be available via live coverage during the season. The Hawkeyes’ matches against Penn State on Oct. 24 and at Northwestern on Oct. 21 will be shown on BTN, while eight other contests will be streamed on BTN.com.

Season tickets remain on sale through the UI Ticket Office. Season tickets are two-for-$30 and include a complimentary Hawkeye t-shirt. Contact the UI Ticket Office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS or visit hawkeyesports.com to place your season ticket order.

Become fans of the official Iowa Volleyball fan page by going to facebook.com/iowavolleyball to follow the Hawkeyes on Facebook. Fans can also follow the Black and Gold on Twitter (@IowaVolleyball).