Home Sweet Home

Sept. 29, 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.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball team has not played a match on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in over a month. After three nonconference tournaments and a pair of Big Ten road matches last weekend, Iowa is eager to host Michigan and No. 24 Michigan State this weekend in its Big Ten home opener.

“Playing on the road in the Big Ten is tough,” said junior libero Bethany Yeager. “We experienced that last weekend playing at Ohio State and Penn State. The crowds were huge and very loud. It is tough out there, especially for the newcomers that have not experienced that environment before. You learn to use the crowd as motivation. It only makes you better.”

The Hawkeyes opened league play falling on Friday at No. 23 Ohio State (3-0) and at No. 4 Penn State on Saturday (3-1).

For freshman Erin Radke, the Big Ten experience is why she chose to play volleyball at Iowa.

“As soon as I stepped into the gym at Penn State, I thought, wow, I cannot believe I am playing here,” said the Sioux Falls, S.D., native. “It was intense. That place is such an icon in college volleyball. That was really fun.”

“Last weekend was awesome playing at Ohio State and Penn State”, said junior Rachael Bedell. “It is always fun playing in Big Ten opponents’ gyms, especially ones like Ohio State and Penn State.”

Iowa has played 11-straight matches away from Iowa City. That marks the longest stretch for any Big Ten team this season.

“That was tough, not only in terms of volleyball, but school as well,” said Yeager, a native of Brenham, Texas. “There are a lot of hours going into it that some do not realize with traveling, school and volleyball. On the road for 11-straight matches is tough physically and mentally. You have to be locked in every day.”

“Even on the road, your mind cannot just be pure volleyball,” said Bedell, who hails from Plano, Texas. “You have to stay on your school work as well. That is part of being a student-athlete.”

Returning to Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be welcomed by the Hawkeyes. “We are really excited to be back home,” said Bedell. “Carver is home. We are used to it. This is where we practice and this is comfortable for us. The fans bring us energy. We have not been here since our opening tournament. Everyone is excited to be back.

“It is fun to have family and friends in attendance. It adds excitement when you have everyone around. We are all excited and ready to play at home.” Iowa is excited for the energy of the home fans on this Homecoming weekend in Iowa City.

“We are excited to have our home crowd behind us,” said Yeager. “This is where we practice. A lot of teams do not like playing in Carver because it is such a big arena and it is different from their home venues. That is definitely an advantage for us, and we are hoping to use that this weekend.”

“It will be great to finally be home,” said Radke. “I am excited to play in front of our home fans. It will be a couple of great match-ups against Michigan and Michigan State.”

Iowa faces the 24th-ranked Spartans tonight at 7 p.m. on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Fans are encouraged to use their ticket stub from today’s Iowa-Minnesota football game for free admission to the volleyball match.