Weekend Play Awaits Hawkeyes in Michigan

Oct. 30, 2012

The University of Iowa volleyball team (10-15, 2-10) continues Big Ten action this weekend, traveling to Michigan State (17-7, 5-7) on Friday and Michigan (17-9, 5-7) on Saturday. The Hawkeyes and Spartans will meet at 5:30 p.m. (CT) in East Lansing, Mich., at the Jenison Field House. Iowa and the Wolverines will square off at 6 p.m. (CT) at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. The match against the Wolverines can be seen live on BTN.com.

Iowa’s match against Michigan can be seen live on BTN.com. Two remaining contests will be streamed live on BTN.com and two will be televised live on Mediacom (MC22).

Remaining Live Coverage Schedule:
Nov. 3 – at Michigan (BTN.com)
Nov. 8 – vs. Purdue (MC22, BTN.com)
Nov. 17 – at Minnesota (BTN.com)
Nov. 24 – vs. Illinois (MC22)

Fans can follow Hawkeye volleyball at AM-800 KXIC or at hawkeyesports.com, where play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes Ian Martin will call the action throughout the season. Hawkeye All-Access, a subscription service committed to providing quality coverage of Hawkeye athletic events, will stream every Big Ten contest this season. Both matches this week will be available at hawkeyesports.com.

Iowa’s match at Michigan State on Friday (5:30 p.m. CT) will mark Sharon Dingman’s 700th as a head coach. Her career record stands at 391-308 in 22 seasons.

Live blogging and live stats (Gametracker) will be available for both matches this week. Hawkeye manager Libbie Hillmer hosts the live blog, providing scoring updates and interactive content from the Official Iowa Volleyball Blog. Visit the Iowa volleyball page at hawkeyesports.com for links to Gametracker and the live blog.

The Hawkeyes hosted No. 1 Penn State last Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, falling in straight sets (15-25, 19-25, 15-25). Junior Nikki Dailey led Iowa with 26 assists and nine digs. Classmate Rachael Bedell paced the team with eight kills. Sophomore Alessandra Dietz recorded six kills and sophomore Erin Leppek equaled a season-high with four kills and added two blocks. The Hawkeyes fell to No. 20 Ohio State in straight sets at home on Saturday night. Bedell paced Iowa with 13 kills, hitting .400. Dailey led Iowa with 21 assists and 12 digs, recording her team-leading 16th double-double of the season. She has recorded seven double-doubles in conference action. Classmate Bethany Yeager, who ranks fifth all-time in program history with 1,427 career digs, recorded 10 digs. Leppek posted a season-best six kills, hitting .333. Sophomore Kari Mueller notched a career-high two services aces.

Head Coach: Cathy George (138-111, 8th season)
2012 Record/Home/Conference: 17-7 overall; 7-4; 5-7
Series Record/Last Meeting: MSU leads, 39-24/Sept. 29, MSU, 3-0
Take Note: Advanced to 2011 NCAA second round; finished 22-12

Head Coach: Mark Rosen (278-173, 14th season)
2012 Record/Home/Conference: 17-9 overall; 8-4; 5-7
Series Record/Last Meeting: Michigan leads, 34-24/Sept. 28, Mich. 3-0
Take Note: Advanced to 2011 NCAA Sweet 16; finished 22-13

The Hawkeyes (10-15, 2-10) are two matches past the midpoint of the Big Ten schedule. Iowa has three home contests and five road matches remaining on its conference slate. The Hawkeyes hosted the Hawkeye Challenge and made 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 Hawkeyes have defeated a ranked team in four of Dingman’s five seasons. 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); at No. 12 Purdue (3-0, 2012). The Hawkeyes are 1-5 against ranked foes this season, falling at No. 18 Iowa State (3-2), at No. 23 Ohio State (3-0), at No. 4 Penn State (3-1), vs. No. 24 Michigan State (3-0) and vs. No. 10 Minnesota (3-1). Iowa swept 12th-ranked Purdue on Oct. 6, 3-0, on the road. The victory marked Dingman’s first win over a ranked foe on the road. No. 12 Purdue is the highest-ranked team the Hawkeyes have defeated during her tenure. Three of Iowa’s remaining 2012 opponents appear in this week’s AVCA top 25 poll (No. 22 Purdue, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 4 Nebraska).

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. Yeager registered a team-high 20 digs on Oct. 13 against Wisconsin to pass Kari Hamel for fifth all-time in program history with 1,388 in her career. On Oct. 21 at Northwestern, Yeager turned in 11 digs to become the fifth Hawkeye in program history to eclipse 1,400 career digs. The Brenham, Texas, native leads the Big Ten with 438 digs (4.61/set). She is one of three players in the league with 400 or more digs.

The Hawkeyes play both matches away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena this weekend after playing five of the last six at home. Prior to the home stretch, Iowa played 13 of 15 matches away from Iowa City. The Hawkeyes are 3-8 at home, 5-1 in neutral site matches and 2-6 in true road matches.

Nikki Dailey ranks sixth in career assists (2,366) and stands ninth in league assists (9.56/set) this season. The junior has led Iowa in assists in every match this season. In conference play only, senior Allison Straumann ranks 10th in the Big Ten with 0.29 service aces per set.

Friday’s match against Michigan State marks the 13th contest of Iowa’s 20-match conference slate, and sixth of 10 conference road contests. Five of the last six national championships have been claimed by current members of the Big Ten. Nebraska won the title in 2006 before Penn State captured four straight (2007-10). Illinois finished as the national runner-up to UCLA a year ago. Five league teams are currently ranked in the top 25 (out of 328 Division I programs). Big Ten teams finished with a combined 114-25 nonconference record.

The Big Ten is represented by five teams in the AVCA top 25 poll. The five teams equal the most of any conference. Penn State ranks third and defending league champion Nebraska is No. 4 overall. Minnesota ranks 10th, Ohio State sits at No. 15 and Purdue ranks 22nd.

In 2011, 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. All three are leading the same respective categories this season. Lovell is pacing the Hawkeyes with 295 kills. Dailey has registered 908 assists and Yeager leads Iowa with 438 digs.

Juniors Bethany Yeager and Nikki Dailey have started every match since the start of the 2011 season. Dailey has not missed a set since last season, while Yeager, an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, has only missed one set in two-plus seasons at Iowa (323-of-324).

Three Hawkeyes have registered a double-double in 2012. Junior Nikki Dailey leads the way with 16 double-doubles, eclipsing her team-best total of 14 a season ago. She has turned in seven double-doubles in league action. Sophomore Alex Lovell has turned in eight and junior Rachael Bedell has notched six.

Senior Allison Straumann and juniors Bethany Yeager and Nikki Dailey were voted team captains for the 2012 season. Straumann, Iowa’s lone senior, has appeared in 63 career matches. Yeager and Dailey have started every match since the beginning of last season.

Hawkeye sophomores Alessandra Dietz, Erin Leppek and Alex Lovell hail from the state of Michigan. Dietz and Lovell were high school teammates (2007-10) at Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 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 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.

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.

Alex Lovell was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 8 for her efforts in Iowa’s two road victories. It marked Iowa’s first Player of the Week honor since Sept. 18, 2006, when Melanie Meister received the recognition. It was also the Hawkeyes’ first weekly honor since Christina Meister was tabbed Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 7, 2009. The Leonard, Mich., native equaled junior Rachael Bedell with a team-best 37 kills in the two wins. Lovell hit a team-high .297 and added three aces and 14 digs. She turned in 41 points, averaging 5.29 kills per set. At Indiana, she tallied 13 kills, two service aces and eight digs in the four-set win, Iowa’s first league victory of the season. In the win over the 12th-ranked Boilermakers, Lovell registered a career-best and match-high 24 kills to go along with an ace and six digs.

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). Five newcomers — Dietz, Kelley, Yanda, Radke, Blomberg — have seen action in 2012. Dietz has started the last 22 contests and ranks fourth on the team with 159 kills. Kelley has seen action in 20 matches. Blomberg and Yanda have played in seven, and six contests, respectively. Radke competed in 17 matches this season, with 10 starts, before suffering an ACL injury.

Three Hawkeyes on the 2012 roster hail from the state of Iowa. All three are 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.

Iowa and Nebraska played in front of a crowd of 1,719 on Oct. 17 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the 10th largest in program history. Since head coach Sharon Dingman’s arrival in 2008, the Hawkeyes have experienced nine of the school’s top 10 all-time attendance figures, and 18 of the top 21. On November 11, 2009, the Hawkeyes eclipsed the 3,000 mark for the first time in program history when 3,102 fans saw Iowa host top-ranked Penn State.

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) and YouTube (youtube.com/uiowavolleyball).

Iowa continues league action at home next weekend, hosting No. 22 Purdue on Thursday and Indiana on Saturday. Botch matches will begin at 7 p.m. on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The match against the Boilermakers will be televised live on BTN.com and Mediacom (MC22).

Next week marks the final time this season the Hawkeyes will host two weekend league matches. Iowa hosts the 2011 national runner-up Illinois in its final home match on Nov. 24.