Iowa Takes a Set from No. 3 Wisconsin but Falls

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MADISON, Wisc. – Jess Janota led the team with 12 kills as the University of Iowa volleyball team fell 3-1 to third-ranked Wisconsin on Wednesday night in the UW Field House. This is the first set Iowa has won against Wisconsin since Oct. 2, 2013 when the Hawkeyes had a 25-17 set-one victory in Iowa City.
“Great effort by our gals tonight,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “When you come into a top-ranked team’s gym on Senior Night, there’s a lot of energy and emotion out there, but I thought we responded really well after the first set and played some great volleyball. I’m proud of our group and how far we’ve come. Everything is about the process and the progress for us, and you can see it in our group. You can see it in the way we are willing to execute.”
In addition to Janota’s 12 kills, the junior amassed a .550 hitting percentage for Iowa (19-12, 9-10 Big Ten). Reghan Coyle registered eight kills, while Ashley Mariani and Lauren Brobst each had seven kills. Annika Olsen garnered 15 digs and Alexa Ito tallied a personal-best 11 digs.
Wisconsin is now 25-3 on the season and 17-2 in league play.
After dropping set one 25-15, the Hawkeyes came out firing on all cylinders in set two. The teams traded back-and-forth points to knot the score at 4-4 before the Hawkeyes used a 16-9 run to take a 19-13 lead. Janota (3), Mariani (3), Keala (1), Brobst (1) and Coyle (1) racked up kills during the stretch, while Molly Kelly and Meghan Buzzerio each chipped in an ace.
The Badgers went on a 7-2 run to cut Iowa’s lead to 21-20, but the Hawkeyes used a 4-2 stretch to clinch a 25-22 set victory, knotting the match at 1-1. This final stance was bolstered by kills from Mariani (2), Brobst (1) and Buzzerio (1).
Buzzerio and Mariani each had a kill to open set three as they helped Iowa to a 4-3 start, but the home team scored three consecutive points to take a 6-4 lead. After back-and-forth points that left the Badgers with a 10-9 advantage, Wisconsin used a 5-1 run to increase the score to 15-10. The Hawkeyes then responded with a 5-2 stretch of their own to cut the advantage to 19-17. Janota and Coyle each registered a kill during this burst before the Badgers secured a 25-16 set win. Janota racked up five kills, while Buzzerio had four during the third set. Wisconsin then won set four 25-7 for a 3-1 match victory.
“We have had such a great building year,” said Shymansky. “We keep getting better and better as we go. Tonight was evidence of that. Again, I like the improvement that we are showing, we just have to show it for a longer sustained period. We take on Michigan State on Saturday night at home. That match is another huge opportunity because we are still of the belief that if we get that victory, we are going to the NCAA Tournament.”
The Hawkeyes return home for Senior Night on Saturday against the 14th-ranked Michigan Spartans. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. CT first serve.