Aug 24, 2013
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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 — Four years ago, Rachael Bedell, Grace Burns, Nikki Dailey, and Bethany Yeager were beginning their collegiate volleyball playing careers. Tonight, at the Black and Gold Scrimmage, they will step on the court for their final season in a Hawkeye uniform with one goal in mind.
Leaving a legacy.
“The senior class wants to leave their mark on this program,” said UI head coach Sharon Dingman. “If this is the year we get into the NCAA Tournament, is that going to propel this program to a point that they can sustain that success? Certainly, they don’t want to finish last in the Big Ten.”
“Finishing last isn’t nearly as stressful as being that sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth place team. That’s stressful because every match is way more meaningful than when you’re finishing 11th or 12th. That’s where they want to be though. They want to know what that stress feels like.”
Of the Big Ten’s 12 teams, the top seven finishers competed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeye seniors are craving a postseason berth of their own in 2013.
“We always have the NCAA Tournament on our mind every year,” Dailey said. “This year we made it a strong goal of ours to create the legacy here and leave it. We are confident because we have an older squad.
“That’s the only thing on my mind. We have created little steps to get there. We feel more confident than any other year that this is the year we can get there.”
The Hawkeyes, who return 15 letterwinners from 2012, are heavy in upperclassmen with six juniors and four seniors on the roster. The team possesses the maturity and experience to rise to the next level.
Junior outside hitter Alex Lovell and Bedell, a right-side hitter, paced the team in kills last season with 382 and 339, respectively. Dailey, who has played in every set since her sophomore season, returns as setter, and Yeager, the libero, has started every match of her Hawkeye career.
The core group of seniors has led lead by example in practice, and they believe hard work will change the culture for the team this season.
“We want to know that we actually made a difference and helped the girls under us,” said Bedell.
“We really want to make a difference,” Burns said. “The four of us want to do something the program hasn’t done in a long time. We want to be the ones to light that fire in the program.”
The Hawkeyes will hold the Black and Gold Scrimmage tonight on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena beginning at 7 p.m. (CT). Admission is free.