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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball team fell to eighth-ranked Nebraska, 3-0, on Saturday night in its home opener inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of the fourth-largest crowd in program history (2,631). Following the loss, the Hawkeyes are 8-5 on the season, with an 0-2 mark in league action.
“You could see the nerves of our group a little bit,” said UI head coach Bond Shymansky. “You would think coming home finally after 12 matches on the road, we would be eager and ready to get in there, but we were really anxious and I don’t blame them.
“I’m so proud of the work we have done up until this point to get to 8-4 and really the work that our group has been doing off campus and on campus to generate such a great crowd. If that’s our home opener and our starting point, to have nearly 3,000 fans in Carver-Hawkeye Arena tonight, that’s awesome. That’s what we’re hoping to build on. Those are the cornerstone pieces to having a great program… having a great home atmosphere and a great crowd to come out and support us is really a big piece. I know if we give it to the fans in Carver-Hawkeye (Arena), they’ll give it back and that will help us compete harder.”
Nebraska (8-3, 2-0) hit .371, while limiting Iowa to a .152 hitting percentage, on its way to a 25-21, 25-13, 25-16 victory.
“The match itself didn’t go the way we wanted it to, and we started off really poor first contacts,” said Shymansky. “The serving and the passing game needs to be much better. We’re going to rely more heavily as we go forward on a couple of key players in the back row that showed towards the end of the match they were willing to step up and take care of the ball for us.”
Iowa out-hit the visitors in the opening set, .321 to .265, but fell 25-21. Alex Lovell paced the Hawkeyes’ attack, tallying four kills and four digs. Lauren Brobst and Jess Janota both registered three kills.
The Huskers hit a set-best .458 in game two, limiting the home team to a .037 hitting percentage, extending their lead to 2-0 heading to intermission with a 25-13 set victory.
Following the break, Nebraska jumped out to a 13-6 lead on its way to a 25-16 third and final set victory. The Huskers registered a .438 hitting percentage, while Iowa hit .130.
“I like what Lauren Brobst did for us as an attacker tonight, that was significant,” said Shymansky. “She didn’t just get kills for us, she dominated kills and unfortunately, it was too little too late. We’re not the kind of team that can have one player carry us through to the end, we’re going to need the entire team to do it. She was a bright spot, and Fugarino was a bright spot for us.
“Each match it seems like we have different individual players that are stepping up and having good individual performances. When we have six players out there that have great performances individually, then we’ll have a great match and get a win.”
Brobst paced Iowa with a .280 hitting percentage and nine kills. Lovell turned in eight kills and five digs, while Janota registered five kills and two digs. Alyssa Klostermann recorded a team-best 18 assists, while Michelle Fugarino led the way with nine digs.
“It was awesome getting back in Carver,” said Klostermann. “We had a huge crowd out tonight; we’re very appreciative of that and playing at home is always fun. We’re excited for another double home match next weekend, so we’re going to get after it so we prove to Ohio State and Penn State what Carver-Hawkeye Arena can hold.”
Iowa resumes league action at home next weekend, hosting Ohio State on Friday and Penn State on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. (CT).