Aug. 29, 2014
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By JIL PRICE
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The 2014 regular season officially began for the University of Iowa volleyball team Friday morning at the Texas A&M Invitational. The UI fell to tournament host Aggies in three sets (17-25, 17-25, 21-25).
“Texas A&M is a really good team and they’ve proven in recent years that they are very good at home, so I knew we would have a tough task taking them on right out of the gate,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “I felt like it took us a while to settle in to how we were going to play our game. By the third set you could see us finding our rhythm and our ability to pass and hit. All things we’re capable of doing.”
Program newcomers Mikaela Gunderson, Jess Janota, Kaylee Smith, Taylin Alm and Michelle Fugarino all logged playing time in the match, with Gunderson, Janota and Fugarino earning the first starts of their Hawkeye careers.
“We have some young players that are going to grow up fast, and we have a team that needs to gel together,” Shymansky said. “The way to do it sometimes is trial by fire and Texas A&M put us in the fire today. At times we responded then we had some weak moments mentally where we would let three, four or five points get by us.”
The Hawkeyes got off to a hot start in set one, using kills from Lauren Brobst and Janota and an Alessandra Dietz service ace to jump ahead of the Aggies, 4-1. Texas A&M rallied back for a 13-8 advantage and never gave it up securing a, 25-17, set one win with a five-point run.
Texas A&M held the Hawkeyes to four points compared to its 13 in the first half of the second set until Iowa used consecutive kills from Alex Lovell and Alm to sway the momentum in its favor. The Hawkeyes made a push, fueled by Janota who posted six kills in the set, but it wasn’t enough for a comeback. The Aggies used a four-point rally to record their 25-17 win and stake a 2-0 match lead heading to the break.
Iowa and Texas A&M battled back-and-forth for set three, which included six ties in the first 26 points. With the score knotted, 13-13, the Aggies used a four-point run to establish a lead and never surrendered it en route to their 25-21 set win and 3-0 final match victory. Lovell came alive in the set recording six kills, while Brobst and Janota kept up steady production with three kills each.
Alyssa Klostermann dished out a team-most 19 assists and Julianne Blomberg led the team with 10 digs, matching her career high. Lovell posted 10 kills and was one dig (9) shy of recording a double-double. Janota paced the offense in her first match as a Hawkeye with 11 kills.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg for Jess,” Shymansky said. “That’s a freshman on opening day putting up numbers like that. What she’ll be able to do as a blocker too will be significant. She’s going to continue to get more comfortable and more aggressive.”
Iowa will challenge UT-San Antonio tonight at 7:30 p.m. (CT) and close Texas A&M Tournament action with a 12:30 p.m. match against Tulane on Saturday. Live stats are available at 12thman.com.
“There is certainly a lot of upside with this group,” Shymansky said. “It’s too early in this tournament weekend to hang our heads. We have to get ready, get focused, get fueled, get rested and come back at it again tonight.”
|Iowa at Texas A&M||1st||2nd||3rd|
|Texas A&M (1-0)||25||25||25|
|Kills: Janota (IOWA) 11 | Lowak (TAMU) 10|
|Assists: Klostermann (IOWA) 19 | Aiple (TAMU) 25|
|Digs: Blomberg (IOWA) 10 | Arenas (TAMU) 15|