Iowa Opens B1G Play at Rutgers, No. 2 Penn State

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Serve it Up
The University of Iowa volleyball team opens Big Ten play at Rutgers on Friday in New Brunswick, N.J., with a 6 p.m. (CT) first serve. The Hawkeyes then travel to No. 2 Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions on Saturday at 3 p.m.
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A Season to Build On

  • Iowa’s 11-2 start is the program’s best since 2006 when the Hawkeyes also started with an 11-2 record.
  • Iowa finished the 2016 season with a 19-13 overall record and 9-11 mark in Big Ten play. The overall record marks the first winning season for the program since 2000 when Iowa went 15-13 overall.
  • The nine conference wins mark the most since 2000, when the Hawkeyes were 11-9 in league action.
  • Nineteen wins is the most for the program since 1994 (24-9; 14-6 B1G). That season, Iowa amassed a 24-9 overall mark with a 14-6 record in league play.
  • With a win on Friday, the Hawkeyes’ 12-2 record will be the best start since the 1994 season. With two wins this weekend, the 13-2 start will be the program’s best start since 1986.

Look Out for Louis

  • Outside hitter Taylor Louis has been dominant in Black and Gold with nine double-digit kill matches, including a career-high 19 kills against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 2.
  • Louis leads the team with 151 kills and .328 attack percentage. Louis also has 21 blocks this season.


  • Halle Johnston, Claire Sheehan, and Gabrielle Orr played together on the Northern Lights (Minnesota) club team under Dave Manka, Adam Beamer, and Walt Weaver for three years.
  • The trio led the 15-1S team to an AAU National Championship and a United States Girls Junior National Championship in the U.S. Junior Olympic division of USA Volleyball.
  • The three guided the team to a third-place finish in the AAU National Championship and a fifth-place finish USJNC.

Scouting Rutgers

  • The Scarlet Knights are 5-7 after being swept by Robert Morris at the Robert Morris Invitational on Sept. 16.
  • Rutgers ranks No. 3 in the league and 50th in the nation with 72 aces.
  • The Hawkeyes are 5-0 all-time against Rutgers. The teams faced twice last year, with Iowa securing wins in both contests.

Scouting No. 2 Penn State

  • The Nittany Lions are 10-0 after topping Ohio, 3-0, on Sept. 16 at the Penn State Classic.
  • Penn State leads both the league and the nation with a .360 attack percentage.
  • Haleigh Washington’s .534 attack percentage also leads the league and the nation.
  • Penn State leads the series 51-0 against the Hawkeyes after securing a 3-0 victory on Nov. 5, 2016.

Orr’s Big Role

  • Freshman Brie Orr has taken charge of the Hawkeye offense, amassing 38 assists in her debut and eclipsing that mark with 55 assists against Coastal Carolina. She has 515 assists this season.
  • After registering 117 assists, 13 kills, and a .500 attack percentage in three matches at the American Volleyball Classic, Orr was named B1G co-Freshman of the Week.
  • Orr has six matches with 40 or more assists and 12 matches with 30 or more assists.
  • In addition to her assists, Orr has 43 kills through 13 games, including a career-high nine to help lead Iowa over Long Beach State on Aug. 26.
  • Orr amassed her first career double-double with 49 assists and 16 digs against No. 22 Iowa State on Sept. 8.

Can you Dig It?

  • Annika Olsen has reached double-digits in digs in 12-of-13 matches, with a season-high 24 at American on Sept. 16.
  • Olsen ranks No. 9 in all-time digs (1,213).

Sheehan’s Groove

  • Claire Sheehan had a monster match at American on Sept. 16, amassing a personal-best 19 kills, a .429 attack percentage, eight digs, and a career-best three blocks.
  • Sheehan followed up the match at American with 11 kills against Princeton, marking the fourth time this season and the third match in a row she has had double-digit kills.
  • Overall, Sheehan has 84 kills and averages 2.62 kills per set.

Recent Career Highs

  • Ashley Smith recorded two kills at Howard on Sept. 15.
  • Brie Orr registered a .625 attack percentage at Howard on Sept. 15.
  • Claire Sheehan amassed a solo block and three total blocks at American on Sept. 16.
  • Taylor Louis had three digs and four blocks at Howard on Sept. 15.

In the Nation

  • The Hawkeyes rank No. 27 in the nation with 13.27 assists per set.
  • Iowa ranks No. 28 in the nation with a .266 attack percentage.
  • Iowa’s 14.16 kills per set rank No. 27 nationally.
  • Brie Orr is No. 24 in assists (515) and No. 17 in assists per set (11.44).

Around the League

  • Iowa leads the Big Ten with 688 digs.
  • The Hawkeyes are second in the league in kills (637) and assists (597).
  • Annika Olsen leads the league in digs (212) and is second in digs per set (4.17).
  • Brie Orr is second in the conference in assists (515) and fifth in assists per set (11.44).

Record Broken

  • 3,136 Hawkeye faithful came out to watch Iowa take on Iowa State on Sept. 8. The Hawkeyes rank No. 11 in the nation for overall attendance with 9,476.
  • The Hawkeyes crushed the single-match attendance record as 4,131 fans watched Iowa take on No. 1 Nebraska on Nov. 19, 2016. Iowa’s previous single-match attendance record was 3,102 (Nov. 7, 2009 against Penn State).
  • The Hawkeyes have set 12 top 20 attendance marks since head coach Bond Shymansky took the helm in 2014.

Challenging Schedule

  • Eight Iowa opponents are currently ranked – Minnesota (1), Penn State (2), Stanford (4), Wisconsin (5), Purdue (13), Nebraska (14), Iowa State (18), Michigan (20).
  • The Hawkeyes’ schedule features 15 teams that reached the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
  • The nonconference schedule included seven teams that competed at the 2016 NCAA Tournament, including Stanford, Coastal Carolina, Iowa State, Northern Illinois, Howard University, American University, and Princeton.
  • Following it’s Big Ten opener at Rutgers, Iowa faces five-straight teams — Penn State (2), Wisconsin (5), Minnesota (1), Michigan (20), and Nebraska (14) — that ended the 2016 season ranked. All five of those teams reached the regional round of the NCAA Tournament, while Nebraska and Minnesota advanced to the Final Four.

True Mental Toughness
The Hawkeyes will continue their True Mental Toughness mantra for the 2017 season. Bond Shymansky’s squad defines true mental toughness as having a great attitude, treating others really, really well, being unconditionally grateful regardless of your circumstances, and giving your very, very best.
European Adventures
University of Iowa volleyball’s Annika Olsen was one of 14 student-athletes to travel with the Big Ten volleyball foreign team from June 17-28. The group started in Prague, Czech Republic, and traveled to Vienna, Austria, Maribor, Slovenia, and Venice, Italy, before ending the tour in Milan, Italy. The group played against several foreign national teams (including the Czech Republic Senior National team and the Italian Junior National Team, among others). The team also saw several historic cities and sights and participated in community service initiatives during the trip.

  • Molly Kelly appeared in all 32 matches in 2016 and led the team with 26 service aces. She also racked up 140 digs and 30 assists.
  • Meghan Buzzerio played in all 32 matches in 2016, amassing 255 kills, 187 digs, 25 blocks, and 20 service aces.
  • Kasey Reuter appeared in 18 matches in 2016 and racked up 70 kills. She had a career-high .889 hitting percentage (eight kills in nine attempts, no errors) in Iowa’s win over Indiana.
  • Reghan Coyle played in all 32 matches in 2016. She registered 239 kills and ranked second on the team with 75 blocks.
  • Annika Olsen, the Hawkeye’s libero, appeared in all 32 matches in 2016 and led the team with 445 digs. She also racked up 72 assists and 13 aces.
  • Emily Bushman appeared in four matches for the Hawkeyes, including helping guide the team to victory at Rutgers on Nov. 4.
  • Cali Hoye played in 18 matches in 2016, registering 34 digs and 21 kills. She had a personal-best six kills and a career-high .556 attacking percentage at Rutgers on Nov. 4.
  • Taylin Alm played in three contests in 2016, amassing 10 kills and a .833 attacking percentage.
  • Jess Janota appeared in all 32 matches in 2016, collecting 260 kills, a .344 attack percentage, and a team-high 82 blocks. Janota chipped in 54 digs and 18 aces.


  • Defensive specialist Ashley Smith comes to Iowa after a season at Nebraska-Omaha, where she amassed 396 digs. Smith played two years at Tipton and two years at Iowa City HS. At Tipton, Smith set a school record for most digs in a set with 58.
  • Halle Johnston played libero at Lakeview South HS for four years and amassed a school-record 1,487 digs. As a senior, she guided her team to a 26-3 record and a berth in the state tournament.
  • Setter Brie Orr joined the Hawkeyes in the spring after four seasons at Eagan HS. Orr amassed 1,271 kills, 1,983 assists, 1,139 digs, 177 blocks, and 116 service aces over her high school career.
  • Outside hitter Claire Sheehan played four years at Cambridge Isanti HS where she accumulated 2,350 kills, good for third all-time in Minnesota Class AAA competition. She also had 1,711 digs and 218 blocks.
  • Middle blocker Kelsey O’Neill comes to Iowa after two years of competition at Pittsburgh. She tallied 170 kills and 72 blocks in 2016.
  • Outside hitter Taylor Louis joins Iowa after three seasons at Marquette. In 2016, Louis racked up 537 kills and 257 digs. Prior to Marquette, she played three years at Niles North High School. 

The Premier Conference
The Big Ten Conference has had an NCAA champion in eight of the last 13 years. Eight teams – Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nebraska – appeared in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
On Deck
After a five-match road stint, the Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, hosting No. 5 Wisconsin on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. (CT). Iowa then hosts No. 1 Minnesota on Sept. 30 in another 7 p.m. first serve.