Local Hawkeyes Ready for Cy-Hawk Series

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa State is no Big Ten team. They just look and play like it. And like six other Big Ten schools, the No. 18 Cyclones are ranked in the AVCA top 25.

“You can definitely tell they have Big Ten qualities,” said Iowa sophomore Kari Mueller. “Just being big and a threat in every aspect of the game makes them very similar to a Big Ten team.”

Mueller is one of three Iowa natives preparing to face the Cyclones in the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series on Friday night. The 44th meeting between the state rivals begins at 6:30 p.m. inside Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State leads the all-time series 22-21, gaining the edge following a 3-0 win in Ames last year.

Mueller picked up a pair of digs in her Iowa-Iowa State debut, and this year she’ll be joined on the floor by another pair of Iowa natives. Mueller, Katie Kelley and Alli O’Deen all graduated from Iowa City high schools in 2011 – O’Deen and Kelley attended Iowa City West while Mueller attended Iowa City High.

O’Deen redshirted last season and Kelley transferred to Iowa after competing last season at Maryland. Both will be experiencing the rivalry up close and personal for the first time.

“You always want to beat your rival,” said O’Deen, “so there is definitely that feeling of, `it’s time to win, I’m ready to go.’ I don’t have anything against them personally, but you certainly have that bigger drive to win.”

Kelley is a third-generation Hawkeye who has been rooting for the Hawkeyes since moving to Iowa City before she started first grade.

“Growing up it was the biggest rivalry around, so I’m excited to be a part of it now,” said Kelley. “I remember rooting for the Hawkeyes my whole life, especially against Iowa State. They’re a really good team and they’ve had a lot of NCAA experience. I know a couple girls personally and I know they’re very skilled. It will be a definite challenge.”

That challenge also presents a great opportunity. Iowa has knocked off a nationally-ranked team in three of the last four seasons, and the Iowa State contest will be Iowa’s first chance to equal the task in 2012. It’s also a chance for the Hawkeyes to measure themselves against Big Ten-quality competition.

“We definitely have to look at this like a Big Ten match,” said O’Deen. “They’re just as good as any Big Ten team. They’re no strangers to the top 10 and we need to look at them like they’re the best in the country and we need to prepare that way.”

Following the Iowa State Challenge, the Hawkeyes have one preseason tournament left on the schedule before beginning conference play. They travel to Milwaukee Sept. 14-15 before opening the Big Ten season at Ohio State Sept. 21.

Until then, Iowa faces an Iowa State Challenge lineup that includes Syracuse, Eastern Washington and Iowa State. The headliner of the weekend is naturally the Iowa State match. The winner will earn two points towards the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk trophy, which is in its ninth season. Both schools have won the trophy four times, and this year Iowa is up 2-0 by virtue of a 3-1 win in women’s soccer.

“Growing up a Hawkeye gives the game a little more meaning,” said Kelly. “I understand the importance of the rivalry and people out of state don’t really know how big of a deal it really is. We all need to be ready to play.”