EVANSTON, Ill. – The University of Iowa women’s volleyball (3-8, 3-8) picked up its first road win of the season in a five-set victory over Northwestern (2-3, 2-3) on Friday night inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.
In Iowa’s second straight five-set match that saw 55 ties and 30 lead changes, the Hawkeyes outlasted the Wildcats in the first match of the weekend.
Iowa jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match, taking set one, 26-24, and winning set two, 39-37, which set a school record and Big Ten record (in the 25-point scoring era) for most combined points in a set between conference opponents. Iowa’s 39 points set a program record were the second-most by a Big Ten team since 2008.
The Wildcats won the third and fourth sets (25-23, 25-17), before Iowa’s 15-11 victory in the fifth and final set.
Iowa’s offense featured six Hawkeyes with at least eight kills. Junior outside hitter led Iowa with 14 kills on 26 total attacks (.346 hitting percentage), while adding 21 assists and eight digs. Right behind Buzzerio was junior middle blocker Hannah Clayton, who added a career-high 14 kills, with a .407 hitting percentage.
Sophomore outside hitter Edina Schmidt (11 kills), freshman Audrey Black (10 kills), junior middle blocker Amiya Jones (10 kills), and sophomore Blythe Rients (nine kills) rounded out Iowa’s balance attack. Rients’ .538 hitting percentage tied a career best.
HOW IT HAPPENED
SET 1 (Iowa, 26-24): Iowa began the set trailing 8-2, before going on a 3-0 run, highlighted by two Buzzerio kills to bring the score to 8-5. Northwestern responded with a 4-0 run of its own to take a 12-5 lead – its largest of the set. The Hawkeyes used a 3-0 run with kills by Jones and Clayton and an ace by Ortega to cut the deficit to 15-14, forcing a Wildcat timeout. Iowa was the first to 20 after Jones ended a long rally with her third kill of the set. However, Iowa trailed 23-21 and 24-23, forcing Iowa to use its last timeout of the set. Out of the timeout, Northwestern served into the net, and Iowa took the next two points to take the set, completing the seven-point comeback.
SET 2 (Iowa, 39-37): Iowa took a 2-0 lead in a marathon set that had 26 ties, 18 lead changes, and 15 set points. Iowa’s 18-15 lead was either team’s first lead of more than two points, but Northwestern answered with a 3-1 run to make it 19-18. Iowa had the first set point, 24-22, before Northwestern rattled off three straight points to have their first set point, 25-24. Trailing 37-36 and facing for the seventh time, Schmidt recorded a kill as Iowa went on a 3-0 set-ending run on their eighth set point. Three Hawkeyes recorded five kills in the set as Iowa attacked at a .294 clip on 51 total attacks.
SET 3 (Northwestern, 25-23): Iowa held a 12-10 lead, forcing a Northwestern timeout. The Hawkeyes increased their lead to 15-12, and were the first to 20 for the third straight set, leading 20-18 after back-to-back kills by Schmidt and Clayton. Northwestern tied it 20, before Iowa took another two-point lead, 22-20, with kills by Buzzerio and Schmidt. The Wildcats, however, ended the set on a 5-1 to stay alive in the match.
SET 4: (Northwestern, 25-17): Iowa struggled offensively in the fourth set, hitting only .043 with seven kills. With neither team leading by more than one until it was tied at 14, Northwestern went on a quick 4-0 run to lead 18-14. The Hawkeyes couldn’t bring it back within four points, before the Wildcats finished the set on a 3-0 run.
SET 5: (Iowa, 15-11): A Northwestern ace started the set, but Iowa rattled off the next four points, forcing an early Northwestern timeout. A big block by Clayton and Buzzerio on the right side gave the Hawkeyes a 5-1 lead, before Northwestern went on a 3-0 run to cut into Iowa’s 5-4 lead. Highlighted by a Buzzerio kill, Iowa went on a 3-0 run to take an 8-4 lead, but Northwestern answered with a 3-0 of its own to bring the score to 8-7. Then, Jones took over for Iowa. She recorded three kills in the next seven points to help give Iowa a 12-10 lead. Northwestern showed life with a kill to make it a 12-11 game, but Iowa scored the next three points, with a Buzzerio kill on match point.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH VICKI BROWN
On Iowa’s balance production: “It was a true indication of how much this five-set match was a team win. Everyone contributed to each point we got and it was truly a team that was earned and not given.”
On team’s resiliency: “We always talk about keeping things going and staying composed. Looking at our juniors, who were not only composed, executed and took over at certain points of the match. That’s the big difference — having and adding more players that thrive in those moments.”
On second set: “The second set was a great battle. That’s what’s makes volleyball fun. Being against your opponent and you are going after it, won’t let up and forcing each other to try and make mistakes. Our players held their own and we actually ran out of subs — we had (Maddie) Slagle and Bailey (Ortega) playing front row. It was truly a gut check working through some things that is unorthodox. I’m very proud of the team for what they did.”
- Iowa’s 13 total blocks were its most in seven games. Clayton led Iowa with seven block assists, followed by Buzzerio’s six.
- Five Hawkeyes – sophomore Joslyn Boyer (14), freshman Leanne Lowry (9), Buzzerio (8), freshman Bailey Ortega (7), and junior Maddie Slagle (7) registered at least seven digs.
- Ortega registered 33 assists, tallying her second straight game with 30+ assists and just one shy of tying a personal best.
The Hawkeyes will take on Northwestern again tomorrow inside Welsh-Ryan Arena at 5 p.m. (CT). The game will be streamed on B1G Network+.