May 28, 2016
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By: BRANDEE BRITT
BARLO, Limburg (Netherlands) — While cultural norms, food, and architecture may differ, volleyball has become a uniting factor on the University of Iowa volleyball team’s European Tour.
With three matches under their belt, the Hawkeyes are adapting to the playing style of international volleyball and making connections with the athletes across the net along the way.
“One of the most interesting and memorable parts of this experience is the connections and instant friendships that our girls are able to make with other college-aged women across Europe,” said UI head coach Bond Shymansky. “The game of volleyball translates into any language. Their interests, enthusiasm, and struggles are all the same across the world for young women playing volleyball. They all recognize and respect that in each other.”
After a full day of traveling and some sightseeing downtown, the Hawkeyes met German Sport University Cologne for five sets on Wednesday evening. The Hawkeyes came out on top; taking 4-of-5 sets from Cologne in their European Tour debut.
Sightseeing in downtown Cologne followed on Thursday morning. A majority of the team climbed to the top of the Cologne Cathedral. Breathtaking views awaited the Hawkeyes at the top of the 509-step climb. The team split up from there, traveling to different parts of the city to experience new food and learn more about German culture.
The Hawkeyes then hopped on the bus and traveled the short distance to the Netherlands to drop their luggage off at the Kasteel De Berckt, a castle-turned-hotel dating back to the 12th century. A match against Peelpush, a high-level Netherlands club team, followed. The Hawkeyes dominated the fourth set, using a 7-2 run to open the set behind three kills by sophomore Jess Janota. Iowa went on to win the set 25-17, before getting to know the Peelpush athletes over snacks following the match.
“It’s definitely been really fun to play the international teams and try to figure out how the international style of play is different than ours,” said sophomore libero Annika Olsen. “It’s also been really fun to talk to the other girls. We’ve gotten the chance to get to know them a little bit and make connections across the ocean.”
After a morning of shopping, Iowa took a two-hour bus trip to take on the Belgium Junior National Team at the Euro Volley Center. After dropping the first set, the Hawkeyes battled back to take sets two and three. The Hawkeyes used a late five-point run to overcome a Belgium lead, before freshman Reagan Davey (kill) and sophomore Kasey Reuter (solo block) scored back-to-back points to secure the 26-24 set-two win. Iowa carried that momentum into the third set, using a 12-1 run to close a 25-14 victory.
“You see our team working on and improving our own game, but we are also grasping a different rhythm of the game.” said Shymansky. “We are figuring out how to compete, defend, and play against a higher outside ball out of system. We are seeing the craftsmanship and skill of the elite-level hitter being able to move the ball around the block and off the block.
“These are all great learning lessons and things that we can apply to our own system and game as we prepare for Big Ten games next fall.”
Iowa will take the weekend off to explore the Netherlands and travel to Poland before returning to the court early next week.
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.