May 18, 2016
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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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By BRANDEE BRITT
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball student-athletes turned in their finals last week and pulled out their passports in preparation for the program’s first European Tour this summer.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for these young woman and members of our staff to go experience a different part of the world,” said UI head coach Bond Shymansky. “This just underscores everything we have here at the University of Iowa to help our student-athletes succeed here and beyond.”
From May 24 to June 6, the Hawkeyes play seven matches across three different countries. The itinerary includes three stops in Germany, two stops in the Netherlands, and a stop in Poland. Over the two-week trip, the Hawkeyes compete against seven different junior national and professional teams.
“The European trip has so many great benefits for our program,” said Shymansky. “The worldly and life experience will create unforgettable memories for everybody involved, and the connections you establish from having life-changing experiences together will be huge for our program.
“On top of that, we get to play top-grade volleyball teams — both junior national and professional teams — in Europe. The style of play, speed of the game, and just seeing something different will expand and challenge the notions of what we already know and do.”
The Hawkeyes return 11 student-athletes from the 2015 roster, including sophomores Annika Olsen (libero) and Jess Janota (middle), and juniors Loxley Keala (setter), Lauren Brobst (outside), and Ashley Mariani (outside/middle) each of whom started all 33 matches last season. Freshmen Libby Koukol (22 starts/defensive specialist), Reagan Davey (16 starts/right side), and Reghan Coyle (8 starts/right side), and junior defensive specialist Alyssa Klostermann (11 starts) also registered starts for the Hawkeyes last year.
“Considering we return virtually everybody to our starting lineup next year, it’s the best time window for us to reap the rewards of a foreign tour,” said Shymansky. “This is not by chance, it’s by intent. We’ve worked hard to put together the details of this trip and make sure it’s at the perfect time in terms of our continued climb as a program.”
The foreign tour will also allow sophomore transfer Kasey Reuter to become more acclimated with her new teammates. Reuter, an outside hitter, transferred to Iowa in January following two years at Missouri. She appeared in 31 matches with 12 starts for the Tigers in 2014 before redshirting in 2015.
“The European trip will be a great way for our team to extend the progress we made in the spring,” said Reuter. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to get a glance at what the playing style is like overseas. I think the different style of play we encounter will be a great test for us to be able to adapt and compete.”
While the trip will undoubtedly help the program grow on the court, the Hawkeyes are also looking forward to the cultural experiences outside the gym.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, so this is basically a dream come true,” said Brobst. “I’m a history major, so that makes me even more excited to experience the different cultures with my teammates. My mom’s side of the family is from the Netherlands and my dad’s is from Germany, so getting to see where my families came from is going to be an amazing experience.”
To stay up-to-date on Iowa’s European Tour action, follow the Hawkeyes on Twitter (@IowaVolleyball), Instagram (@iowavolleyball), and Facebook (/iowavolleyball). Fans can also follow the team’s European Tour Blog on hawkeyesports.com.