Aug 20, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — With a roster featuring 10 upperclassmen, the University of Iowa volleyball team’s theme stems around using the squad’s maturity to move up the Big Ten Conference ladder.
“Our seniors are being good seniors,” UI head coach Sharon Dingman said Tuesday at the team’s media day in the Media Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “They’ve set the pace for how they want practices to go and what we should be accomplishing every day.
“They’re tired of losing and the team is tired of losing. Everybody is tired of Iowa volleyball losing. The seniors have taken that to heart, and they want to leave some kind of legacy. If that is getting to the NCAA Tournament or getting more Big Ten wins than we had five years ago, that’s what they want to do.”
With a deep roster, Dingman is experimenting with a new offensive scheme — a 6-2 — during the preseason. The move is possible with senior Nikki Dailey, sophomore Anne Yanda, and freshman Alyssa Klostermann in the setter position.
“We have been waiting, anticipating this year. We know the class under us is strong and the class under them was exciting last year. We have a lot of maturity… that’s a big word… and I feel like everybody is on the same page this year.”
UI senior setter Nikki Dailey
“We’re trying to move our hitters around a little more and figure out our strengths and use those to our best advantage,” said Dingman. “We have three setters that are capable of running a more complex offense than we have in the past.
“We’re not the tallest team in the Big Ten, but if we can take our strengths and utilize them, we can do some things that can give some teams some problems.”
Dailey says the team is connecting with the offensive transition.
“That’s a good look for us,” she said. “We have three hitters at the net at all times and that’s huge in the Big Ten. We’re liking it because then we have big-time hitters at the net in every rotation.”
Iowa returns three of its top four hitters from a season ago, and Dingman has moved freshman Lauren Brobst to the outside. Junior Alex Lovell led the team with 382 kills in 2012, while senior Rachael Bedell and junior Alessandra Dietz were second and third with 339 and 198, respectively.
Brobst joined the Hawkeyes as a middle out of Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City, Iowa, but her athleticism made her a candidate to slide into a more prominent offensive position to feature alongside Iowa’s returnees.
“She has a big arm,” said Dingman. “We’re excited about her on the outside with Alex. That’s a great point scoring duo and allows us to put Rachael in her more attacking position, which is a right-side attacker. Our goal is to be hard to defend, and potentially, we should be.”
With seven Big Ten teams among the AVCA Coaches Preseason Top 25, Dingman says the conference will once again be one of the preeminent leagues in the country. She embraces the challenge.
“It’s fun, it’s a grind, and it’s challenging,” said Dingman. “We’ve had four people that have been through this. Playing in the Big Ten is fun; it’s the ultimate of college volleyball. It makes it a little more challenging to move up the standings.”
The Hawkeyes, especially the four-player senior class, have been waiting for 2013 to roll around.
“We have been waiting, anticipating this year,” said Dailey. “We know the class under us is strong and the class under them was exciting last year. We have a lot of maturity… that’s a big word… and I feel like everybody is on the same page this year.”
The Hawkeyes open the regular season Aug. 30-31 at the Chanticleer Invitational in Conway, S.C., with matches against Wofford, Youngstown State and Coastal Carolina.