2015 Iowa Volleyball Season in Review

Dec. 29, 2015

2015 Final Notes Get Acrobat Reader

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The University of Iowa volleyball team ended the 2015 season with a 12-21 overall record and a 2-18 mark in Big Ten play under second-year head coach Bond Shymansky.

In front of the fifth-largest crowd in program history (2,488), the University of Iowa volleyball team trumped the Cyclones, 3-1, for the first time since Sept. 13, 1997. The Hawkeyes used a .379 attack percentage and a season-high 66 kills to defeat Iowa State in four sets. Sophomore Jess Janota paced the Hawkeye offense with a career-high 20 kills, while freshman Libby Koukol led the team with a career-high 18 digs.

The Hawkeyes won eight straight matches from Sept. 6-19 — the longest streak for the program since 2006. Iowa defeated American, 3-1, at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic on Sept. 6. The following weekend (Sept. 11-12), the Hawkeyes went 3-0 at the Comfort Suites Challenge with wins over Milwaukee (3-0), Iowa State (3-1), and No. 25 Texas A&M (3-1). Iowa continued its streak on Sept. 18-19, sweeping the Holiday Inn Hawkeye Challenge tournament field with wins over Gardner-Webb (3-0), Coastal Carolina (3-0, 3-0) and Drake (3-0).

Iowa’s 3-1 victory over No. 25 Texas A&M on Sept. 12 marked the first ranked win for the Hawkeyes since defeating No. 12 Purdue, 3-1, on Nov. 8, 2014. Junior Loxley Keala led the Hawkeye offense with 57 assists, while junior Lauren Brobst paced the team in kills (17). Freshman Reagan Davey and senior Mikaela Gunderson each contributed four blocks.

Iowa set two top-10 attendance marks this season. The Hawkeyes downed the Cyclones in front of the fifth-largest crowd in program history (2,488) on Sept. 11, before hosting the nationally ranked Huskers on Sept. 23 in front of 2,447 fans — the sixth-largest crowd in program history.

The Hawkeyes won eight matches in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season — the most home wins for the program since 2000 (eight wins). The Hawkeyes started the season with a perfect 7-0 mark on Mediacom Court, marking the best start at home for the program since 1993.

The Hawkeyes compiled a 10-3 record in nonconference action this season, marking the best overall start for the program since going 11-1 in 2006. Two of Iowa’s three loses were against ranked opponents (No. 17 Hawaii and No. 25 UCLA). The nonconference season included wins over South Dakota State, Pacific, American, Milwaukee, Iowa State, No. 25 Texas A&M, Gardner Webb, Coastal Carolina (2x), and Drake.

The Big Ten Conference has had an NCAA Champion in eight of the last 12 years. Nine teams — Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Purdue — appeared in the 2015 NCAA Tournament with Nebraska winning their fourth national title. The title marked the third straight for the Big Ten Conference.

Nine Big Ten volleyball teams were ranked or receiving votes in the final AVCA Division I Coaches poll, released on Dec. 21. NCAA Champion Nebraska topped the poll at No. 1, followed by Big Ten Champion Minnesota at No. 3. Penn State checked in at No. 9, followed by No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 15 Illinois, No. 17 Purdue, and No. 24 Michigan. Michigan State received 32 votes in the final poll.

Fourteen of Iowa’s 2015 opponents appeared in the final AVCA Division I Coaches poll, released on Dec. 21. No. 1 Nebraska, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 7 Hawaii, No. 9 Penn State, No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 12 UCLA, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 15 Illinois, No. 17 Purdue, No. 18 Texas A&M, and No. 24 Michigan are ranked in the top 25, while Michigan State (32), American (15), and Iowa State (3) received votes. The Hawkeyes played 21 of their 33 matches against teams who made the NCAA Tournament.

Following the regular season, five Hawkeyes — Mikaela Gunderson, Jess Janota, Alyssa Klostermann, Alli O’Deen, and Erin Radke — received Academic All-Big Ten recognition for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Radke was also the recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.

Senior Mikaela Gunderson made history in her final match as a Hawkeye on Nov. 28, breaking Iowa’s career attack percentage record with a mark of .294 — 16 points higher than the previous school record of .278 (Alessandra Dietz, 2014). In 64 matches and 220 sets for the Hawkeyes, Gunderson compiled 339 kills in 810 attempts with just 101 errors. The Casco, Wisconsin, native registered 193 blocks (16 solo, 177 assists) in her career, and holds the record for blocks in a four-set match (nine versus Texas-San Antonio on Sept. 29, 2014).

Junior Ashley Mariani served up a team-leading 32 aces this season. Her 0.28 service aces per set average led the team and ranked 10th in the Big Ten. Freshman Molly Kelly and junior Loxley Keala added 22 aces a piece. The Hawkeyes registered 134 aces on the season — the fourth highest total in the Big Ten — besting last year’s total of 122.

Annika Olsen recorded her 500th dig of the season against Northwestern on Nov. 21. The sophomore led the Big Ten in total digs (546) and digs per set (4.75). Olsen is the sixth Hawkeye to surpass 500 digs in a single season. The Johns Creek, Georgia, native registered 20 or more digs 11 times this season, including a career-high 26 in Iowa’s win over Rutgers on Oct. 31.

Loxley Keala recorded her 1,000th assist against Purdue on Nov. 7. The junior’s 1,247 assists rank eighth on Iowa’s all-time career assists list and ninth all-time in assists in a single season. Janet Moylan (1987-90) holds the school record with 5,471 career assists. Keala started every match and every set as Iowa’s setter in 2015. The Kaneohe, Hawaii, native registered 50 or more assists seven times this season, including a career-high 64 against Michigan on Oct. 7.

Junior Loxley Keala was named Big Ten Conference Setter of the Week for her performance at the Comfort Suites Challenge on Sept. 11-12. It was the first conference honor of Keala’s career. The Kaneohe, Hawaii, native became the first Hawkeye to earn a Big Ten weekly award since Bethany Yeager was named defensive player of the week on Sept. 2, 2013. Keala was the first Hawkeye in program history to win a weekly setter award.

Keala posted 40-plus assists in all three matches that weekend, including 57 against No. 25 Texas A&M. She led the offense to back-to-back matches with a .300 or better attack percentage, including a season-high .379 against Iowa State and .303 versus Texas A&M. Keala tallied 154 assists and averaged 14 assists per set on the weekend.

Sophomore Annika Olsen was named October’s female student-athlete of the month. The award honors University of Iowa student-athletes who display excellence in athletics, academics, and community service, as voted on by their peers. Olsen led the team with a 5.23 digs per set average during the month of October. She reached double digits in digs in all 10 October matches, including a career-high 26 in Iowa’s win over Rutgers on Oct. 31.

• Junior Lauren Brobst and sophomore Jess Janota each earned all-tournament team honors following the NIU Invitational on Aug. 29-30. Brobst recorded 51 kills throughout the two-day tournament, including a season-high 21 against Northern Illinois on Aug. 30. Janota finished the tournament with 31 kills. She paced the team with 17 kills against Pacific on Aug. 29.
• Junior Loxley Keala and Brobst were named to the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic all-tournament team. Keala led the team in assists throughout the three-day tournament (Sept. 4-6), tallying 93 total assists. Brobst paced the team with 34 kills.
• Janota was named tournament MVP following the Comfort Suites Challenge on Sept. 11-12. The sophomore finished the weekend with 41 kills, including a career-high 20 against Iowa State. Senior Mikaela Gunderson and Brobst were both named to the all-tournament team. Brobst led the team with 45 kills in three matches, while Gunderson posted a .459 attack percentage and 30 kills.
• Keala earned tournament MVP honors following the Holiday Inn Hawkeye Challenge on Sept. 18-19. The junior finished the weekend with 152 assists, averaging 12.67 assists per set. Gunderson and freshman Reagan Davey were both named to the all-tournament team. Gunderson hit .408 in four matches with 24 kills, while Davey notched 33 kills on the weekend, including 14 against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 19.

Six underclassmen saw time on the court in 2015. Sophomores Annika Olsen and Jess Janota started all 33 matches, while freshmen Libby Koukol (22 starts), Reagan Davey (16 starts), and Reghan Coyle (seven starts) also saw time in the starting lineup. Freshman Molly Kelly appeared in all 33 matches in 2015.

The Hawkeyes recorded back-to-back Big Ten wins against Rutgers (Oct. 31) and Indiana (Nov. 4). Iowa recorded its first Big Ten win of the season, defeating Rutgers in straight sets (25-20, 25-19, 25-20) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes extended the streak with a 3-0 sweep at Indiana (25-19, 25-21, 25-20). The victory marked the first true road win for the Hawkeyes this season.

• Sophomore Annika Olsen led the Big Ten in digs per set average (4.75).
• Olsen finished the season with 546 digs — the third highest total in the Big Ten.
• Junior Loxley Keala ranks fifth in the conference in total assists (1,247).
• Keala had the sixth-best assist per set average in the Big Ten (10.84).
• Junior Ashley Mariani‘s 0.28 aces per set average ranks ninth in the Big Ten.
• Senior Mikaela Gunderson hit .333 in 2015 — the 10th highest hitting percentage in the Big Ten.

• Junior Loxley Keala‘s 10.84 assists per set average ranks 40th nationally.
• Keala is ranked 43rd nationally in total assists (1,247).
• Sophomore Annika Olsen ranks 59th in digs per set average (4.75).
• Olsen’s 546 digs ranks 61st nationally.

• Freshman Reagan Davey ranks fourth among conference freshmen in kills per set average (2.43).
• Freshman Molly Kelly is ranked seventh among league freshmen in service aces per set average (0.19). Kelly registered 22 service aces in 2015. She notched three aces in a single match three times (Pacific, NIU, Wisconsin).
• Davey (2.17) and freshman Libby Koukol (2.11) rank sixth and 10th, respectively, among Big Ten freshmen in digs per set.

For an inside look at the Iowa Volleyball program and access to exclusive coverage, “like” University of Iowa Volleyball on Facebook and follow @IowaVolleyball on Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to follow the team’s live Twitter feed, @IowaVB_Live, for more frequent in-match tweets, statistics and more.

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