Hawkeyes Fall in Season Opener to the Fighting Illini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – In its first game in 419 days, the University of Iowa volleyball team dropped its season opener to Illinois in four sets on Friday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes lost the first set, won the second set, were ahead in the fourth set, but ultimately fell, 3-1, to open the 2021 season.

Iowa was led by junior Courtney Buzzerio (14 kills), sophomore Blythe Rients (12 kills), and freshman Bailey Ortega (19 assists).


SET 1 (Illinois, 25-20): The Hawkeyes started the match with a 6-2 run with a pair of kills from junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton and Buzzerio. Illinois went on its own run with three aces by senior Kylie Bruder and a pair of kills from junior Mica Allison and senior Megan Cooney to take an 8-6 lead. The teams traded points down the stretch. Tied at 19 all, Illinois rattled off six of the next seven points .

SET 2 (Iowa, 25-23): For most of the set, the two teams traded points. Iowa took a 19-15 lead on a Blythe Rients kill to force an Illini timeout. Buzzerio lead the team with seven kills in the set. Illinois led 23-21, but Iowa scored the next four points on a service error and three attacking errors to tie the match at one.

SET 3 (Illinois, 25-15): Illinois jumped out to a 6-2 lead. The Hawkeyes trailed 11-5, and tried to mount a comeback after a timeout, but feel 25-15 in the third set.

SET 4: (Illinois, 25-23) The final set was a fight to the finish. Iowa led 13-11 out of the gate, forcing an Illinois timeout. Iowa held a 21-16 lead after a kill by freshman Audrey Black, and then Illinois went on a six-point run to take the lead, 22-21. Illinois’s Megan Cooney put the ball away on match point to give them a win 25-23.


“Three of those sets we were leading the pack. Anytime in this conference a team is down, they’re going to make subtle adjustments. We got a little jumpy in those adjustments from our blocking strategies and defensively. That’s a little bit of first match jitters. We have to keep our foot on the gas pedal towards the end.”


  • Freshman Bailey Ortega made her first career start at setter in her first career game. Ortega registered a team-high 19 assists and added five digs.
  • Sophomore Joslynn Boyer made her first career start at libero. Boyer also reached a new career high in digs (15).
  • Freshman Audrey Black made her first career appearance and tallied a career high in kills (4).


The Hawkeyes wrap up opening weekend against Illinois at noon (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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