DEKALB, Ill. — The University of Iowa volleyball team kicked off the 2016 season with a 3-1 victory over Loyola-Chicago on Saturday morning in NIU Invitational action.
“It was a really good start for us,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “You could feel the energy, the intensity, and the enthusiasm. We got a little flat in the second set, but then regrouped and asserted ourselves in the third and fourth set. I really liked our true mental toughness there after that second set.”
Iowa came out swinging in set one, using a .400 hitting percentage with 16 kills in 25 attempts. The Hawkeyes opened the match with a 7-1 run behind kills from redshirt freshman Meghan Buzzerio (2), senior Lauren Brobst (1), and sophomore Reghan Coyle (1). They never trailed from there, fighting off a Rambler, 4-0, run late to win set 1, 25-18. Buzzerio paced the Hawkeye attack, registering five kills in eight attempts, while senior setter Loxley Keala dished out 14 assists.
After dropping set two, 25-22, the Hawkeyes fought back in set three. Following a back and forth battle to begin the set, Iowa used a 10-2 run to create distance. Coyle led the rally with three kills and a pair of blocks, while juniors Jess Janota and Annika Olsen added kills and sophomore Molly Kelly served an ace. A late 5-1 run, aided by kills by Buzzerio and Keala, sealed the, 25-17, set-three victory.
Iowa dominated the fourth set, using a .647 attack percentage to overwhelm the Ramblers. The Hawkeyes opened the set with a 7-1 run, guided by three aces from Kelly. They never lost the momentum from there, going on to win the set, 25-9, and the match, 3-1.
Twelve Hawkeyes saw action, including three of the team’s five newcomers. Janota led the Iowa offense with 13 kills and a .571 attack percentage, while Buzzerio also reached double digits in kills with 12. Keala dished out a team-high 45 assists, Olsen led the team with 17 digs, and senior Ashley Mariani and Coyle each added three blocks. Kelly registered a career-high four aces.
The Hawkeyes return to action this afternoon against DePaul. First serve is set for 3:30 p.m. (CT) from Victor E. Court.