Iowa Loses 5-Set Battle to No. 15 Illinois

Box Score

Oct. 16, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball team won its first two sets of Big Ten action over No. 15-ranked Illinois, but fell to the Fighting Illini (13-5, 5-2) in five sets, 3-2. The loss drops the Hawkeyes to 8-10 overall and 0-7 in conference play.

“There has been good progress for us, and we’re starting to feel a sense of ownership to Carver Hawkeye Arena and we need that feeling of home court advantage,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “I like the idea that we can battle that hard against a team like that, but I’m not about moral victories. We can show progress, we can talk about progress, but we need to win.

“Overall. I thought we had a lot of great things going on. We haven’t had a match where we’ve had more than one hitter do something offensively for us, so when you start getting balance and you start getting what looks like offense. We had that going on tonight. I really liked our passing unit, I liked our fight. We had a ton of blocks out there so our eyes came back to us as we reverted to our 6-2 offense. This is a group that can compete and battle and start getting some big time victories here real quick.”

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Iowa started on a high note, winning its first set of the 2014 Big Ten season 30-28 over Illinois. The offense was fueled by Lauren Brobst, who recorded eight kills in the set, Alessandra Dietz (4 kills) and Jess Janota (3 kills).

After falling to the Fighting Illini in the next two sets, 25-12 and 25-23, the Hawkeyes recovered with a 25-19 win in the fourth. It marked Iowa’s first five-set match of the season. Brobst continued to be the difference-maker offensively as she added four kills in the set. Taylin Alm also made an impact off the bench, recording three kills on four swings for a .750 attack percentage.

In the fifth set the Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini battled through five tie scores before Illinois used a trio of kills to pull ahead, 13-10. Illinois avoided the loss, using an attack error and a kill to secure the fifth set, 15-11, and the match, 3-2.

With a season-high 18 kills, Brobst led the offensive effort for Iowa, which hit .100 overall in the match compared to Illinois’ .316.

“Brobst has been just a great superstar for us so far this season. In particular, so far this Big Ten season,” Shymansky said. “You get to this level and it is elite and so you have to take elite swings every single time. Brobst has no conscious right now. She has no shame in her game. She sees the ball, she’s going to hit it hard and she can hit it in all different directions. I’m really proud of where she’s going but again we need her to then not just be able to carry us statistically, but carry us into that fire zone.”

Alm set a new career-high with 9 kills, and compiled a .412 attack percentage in the match.

“Taylin was great for us tonight,” Shymansky said. “Her arm swing is just really fast, so she scored a lot of points in a lot of different directions as our right side hitter and gave us another option offensively.

“I liked her fight and fire out there, it’s something we’ve been preaching to every kid on our team right now is that if you want to get onto the court, you have to compete hard. Competing hard actually has a face, it has a sound, it has a look, it has a feel. It’s not just about the stats, and I felt like Taylin embodied that in her performance tonight. She showed her teammates and her opponent that she was on fire and that’s really exciting for us.”

Kaylee Smith dished out 24 assists to lead the squad, while Alyssa Klostermann distributed 21. Michelle Fugarino led the back line with 17 digs, while Mikaela Gunderson and Dietz led the blocking front with nine apiece.

The Hawkeyes are back in action at home on Saturday against Northwestern. The 7 p.m. (CT) match is Attacking Breast Cancer Night and Girl Scout Night. The first 200 fans through the doors will receive a free pink Iowa volleyball pennant.

Iowa vs. #15 Illinois 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Iowa (8-10, 0-7) 29 12 23 25 11
#15 Illinois (13-5, 5-2) 27 25 25 19 15

Statistical Leaders
Kills: Brobst (IOWA) 18 | Birks (ILL) 21
Assists: Smith (IOWA) 24 | Viliunas (ILL) 54
Digs: Fugarino (IOWA) 17 | Donnelly (ILL) 17
Blocks: Dietz/Gunderson (IOWA) 9 | Stadick (ILL) 11
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