IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball team downed South Dakota (11-2) in straight sets on Saturday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to clinch to 2016 Iowa Invitational Championship. The Hawkeyes improve to 10-2 with the win, marking the team’s best start to a season since 2006.
“We did a nice job tonight,” said UI head coach Bond Shymansky. “I could tell our group was a lot more dialed in. We wanted to play well and have good execution.
“We had a lot of new faces out in the lineup which is important to us. We keep looking for different things that we can get out of different players. Overall, it was a good night for us to get a sweep.”
Senior setter Loxley Keala was named the tournament’s most valuable player, while redshirt freshman Meghan Buzzerio earned all-tournament honors. Keala dished out 76 of Iowa’s 85 assists on the weekend and helped six different Hawkeyes to double digits in kills. Buzzerio posted a team-high 15 kills on the weekend along with 10 digs and a pair of blocks.
Iowa snapped South Dakota’s 11-game winning streak. The Hawkeyes hit .336 in the match with 51 kills to hand the Coyotes their second loss of the season.
The Hawkeyes came out firing in the first set, registering a .415 attack percentage and 21 kills. Redshirt freshman Meghan Buzzerio and sophomore Reghan Coyle had the hot hands in the set, recording six kills apiece. Buzzerio and Coyle registered four straight kills to start the game and give Iowa an early 4-1 lead. The Hawkeyes remained in control from there, going on to win the set, 25-19.
Iowa stayed hot in the second set, hitting .370 with 12 kills. After a back-and-forth battle to begin the set, Keala served a 6-0 run to create distance (17-10). The Hawkeyes held on to the momentum from there, winning the set, 25-15.
The Hawkeyes got out to a 16-9 lead in set three behind an 11-3 run. Junior Jess Janota (2), sophomore Reagan Davey (2), and senior Lauren Brobst (1) added kills to the rally while freshman Cali Hoye recorded an ace. The Coyotes fought back, pulling within three, 23-20, but kills by Janota and senior Ashley Mariani clinched the, 25-21, set victory and, 3-0, match sweep.
Twelve Hawkeyes saw game action. Five Iowa attackers hit .300 or better in the match (minimum 10 attempts). Coyle was the most efficient, hitting .500 with eight kills in 14 attempts and just one error. Brobst paced the team with 11 kills, Keala dished out a team-leading 43 assists, and Mariani posted a team-high three blocks. Junior libero Annika Olsen led the team with 15 digs, while Hoye registered a career-high 11.
Iowa opens its Big Ten slate next weekend traveling to No. 22 Michigan State on Friday, Sept. 23 and No. 23 Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 24.
“Every contact is going to be important as we head into Big Ten play,” said Shymansky. “The margin of error is so small against top-25 teams. Right now we have eight Big Ten teams in the top-25, including Michigan and Michigan State who we play on the road this weekend. That’s what we are here for. We’re here for the best-of-the-best each and every night.”