Sophomore Trio Excited to Play Back Home

Aug. 31, 2012

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.

ROCHESTER, Mich. — For three members of the University of Iowa volleyball team, this weekend’s Golden Grizzlies Invitational carries extra significance.

Sophomores Alessandra Dietz, Erin Leppek and Alex Lovell all grew up within minutes of the Oakland University campus in Rochester Mich. This weekend’s tournament will truly be a trip back home.

“It is going to be really exciting to see my family and play in front of them,” said Lovell, who grew up going to volleyball matches at Oakland. “All three of us feel the same way. We are all so excited.”

“It will be exciting to have my high school coaches come out to the matches, along with friends and family,” said Dietz. “I am also excited for my teammates to see my hometown. It will be really fun.”

“There should be a lot of family and friends in attendance,” said Leppek. “It is going to be a lot of fun. It is a big deal to go back close to home, especially for the people that can’t make it to Iowa.”

Dietz and Lovell were high school teammates from 2007-10 at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which is 12 miles from the site of this weekend’s matches. 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 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.

The group developed special bonds during their prep days, ones that have continued while in Iowa City.

“I love it,” said Lovell about the opportunity to play with her fellow Michigan natives at Iowa. “It is like the past and the present. It is fun playing with them again. We had a dynamic in our club season that we can bring to Iowa. We all know how each other plays.

“It is fun to be able to continue this in college. The bonds that we made in high school are not going to fade away now. They are only becoming stronger.”

Leppek, a Rochester Hills native who attended Rochester High School, echoed her teammate’s comments.

“It is fun, we can talk about stuff we have done before together,” said Leppek, who was in a diving program at Oakland during middle school. “We know how to communicate with each other, how to motivate each other, and what it takes to play well.”

Iowa opens tournament play against Eastern Illinois today at 3:30 p.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes then face Toledo at 9 a.m. Saturday morning before squaring off against host Oakland at 6 p.m.