Oct. 11, 2012
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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 is coming off one of its biggest weekends in program history.
The Hawkeyes won at Indiana on Oct. 5, 3-1, and at 12th-ranked Purdue on Oct. 6, 3-0, to earn their first conference wins of the season. The victory in West Lafayette, Ind., marked Iowa’s first win at Purdue and first sweep of the Boilermakers since Nov. 10, 2000. It also marked the fourth win over a ranked foe for head coach Sharon Dingman, and her first victory over a ranked team on the road. No. 12 Purdue is the highest-ranked team the Hawkeyes have defeated during her tenure.
It also marked the first time Iowa has won two-straight league contests since 2008 and consecutive league road matches since 2005. The Hawkeyes were one of five league teams with an undefeated weekend.
“Friday night the players were so excited, and on Saturday night, you can double that,” said Dingman. “Certainly, beating a ranked team, but also back-to-back road wins. The team understands the enormity of that in this conference. It was really fun.”
“The victories were really exciting,” said junior setter Nikki Dailey. “We have been playing at a high level and made a huge impact this weekend for Hawkeye volleyball.”
In the nation’s best conference, Iowa realizes there is no time to rest on its success. Seven teams are currently ranked in the top 25 (out of 328 Division I programs) and another is receiving votes.
“It was a great weekend, but those wins are in the past,” said sophomore Alex Lovell, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week. “We can only take that momentum into our matches against Minnesota and Wisconsin this weekend. It is what we are working on.”
“We are very happy about what we did, but we are not content,” said junior Rachael Bedell, who turned in a career-best 26 kills at Indiana. “We are going to keep working on things we are doing well, and pinpointing things we still need to improve. We are working to get better every day.”
The Hawkeyes face another ranked opponent this weekend, hosting No. 10 Minnesota on Friday and Wisconsin on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and both can be seen live on BTN.com.
“We have to move on,” said Dingman. “We are not going to forget it though, because it is momentum and it is confidence. It is everything we need going into the next weekend.
“Forgetting it is not an option. The players need to remember how hard they worked and played to win those matches and their preparation, and put it to use this weekend. We want to grab momentum, run with it and see what happens, but we do not want to forget how we accomplished those victories.”
The victories showed the Hawkeyes’ hard work is starting to pay dividends.
“It is nice to know that the hard work we have put in is working,” said Bedell. “Especially coming off two big wins; it drives us in practice to keep improving.”
As Iowa continues to work to get better, the focus is on carrying its momentum forward and gaining consistency.
“We have played at a high level on the road this season,” said Dailey. “At home, we have not played to our full potential. We want to play consistently at Carver and show our fans what we are capable of.
“Tough serving is crucial to our consistency. Our serving and passing were the best we have seen all year this past weekend. We want to keep our serves aggressive. When we are on point, serving and passing, we are an entirely different team.”
The Hawkeyes are hopeful for an electric crowd and atmosphere at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It would be amazing,” said Bedell. “Hopefully our wins last weekend bring out a lot of people. It should bring a lot more energy and maybe a little intimidation that Minnesota and Wisconsin have not seen here before.”
“I am very excited for the weekend,” said Dailey. “I want to show our fans what we can do.”