Iowa Loses in 5 Sets, Splits with Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. – In its third straight five-set match and second in as many days, the University of Iowa volleyball team (3-9, 3-9) came up short in a 3-2 defeat to Northwestern (3-3, 3-3) on Saturday inside Welsh-Ryan Arena to end the weekend with a split against the Wildcats.

Iowa dropped the first set, 25-18, before evening the match with a 25-22 victory in set two. The Hawkeyes dominated set three, winning 25-12, but the Wildcats responded, taking the next two sets 25-21 and 16-14.

Junior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio recorded her seventh double-double of the season, with 15 kills and 19 assists, while adding six digs. Sophomore outside hitter Edina Schmidt also tallied 15 kills and five digs.

Defensively, Iowa recorded four of its eight total blocks in the first set, and junior defensive specialist Maddie Slagle led Iowa in the back row, tying a career-high with 16 digs.


SET 1 (Northwestern, 25-18): Iowa trailed 4-0 to open the set, but was able to bring it within one, 14-13, thanks to a kill by Buzzerio, followed by a Northwestern ball handling error. Northwestern, however, answered with a 5-0 run to lead 19-13, before taking the largest lead of the set at 21-14. Schmidt and Black, who registered four kills in the first set, recorded back-to-back kills to cut into Northwestern’s 21-16 lead. Trailing 23-16, Iowa called its final timeout, but couldn’t get over the hump, and dropped the opening set. Iowa struggled offensively in the first set, recording only eight kills with a .152 hitting percentage.

SET 2 (Iowa, 25-22): Iowa opened the set with an ace by freshman Leanne Lowry and took a 6-4 lead, before Northwestern went on a 6-2 run to hold a 10-8 advantage. The Hawkeyes regained the lead (12-11) on back-to-back kills by Buzzerio and Clayton. Again, Northwestern responded to take a 14-13 lead, but back-to-back kills by sophomore Blythe Rients and Schmidt gave Iowa a 15-14 lead. Iowa’s second ace of the set by Ortega gave Iowa a 19-18 advntage. Out of the timeout, the Hawkeyes went on a 3-0 run, with two kills from Clayton, who recorded five in the set, and an attacking error by the Wildcats. A service error by Northwestern gave Iowa set point and junior Amiya Jones finished the set with a kill to even the match, 1-1.

SET 3 (Iowa, 25-12): Tied at one to start the set, Iowa rattled off 15 straight points to take a 16-1 lead, forcing Northwestern to burn both of its timeouts. In the 15-0 run, Iowa recorded eight kills. Buzzerio started the scoring onslaught with a kill, finished with five kills in the set, and recorded the set-ending kill to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Sophomore Joslyn Boyer, who tallied one ace, was serving during Iowa’s 15-0 run. Schmidt also tallied five kills in the set as Iowa attacked at a .429 clip – the best of any set.

SET 4: (Northwestern, 25-21): Northwestern led 5-0 out of the gate, but Iowa responded with a 5-1 run to bring the score to 6-5. The Wildcats used another 4-0 run to take a 10-5 lead. Schmidt registered two straight kills to cut into Northwestern’s 10-7 lead. Northwestern led 14-9, forcing an Iowa timeout, followed by back-to-back aces to increase Northwestern’s lead to 17-10. Iowa clawed its way back with kills by Schmidt and freshman Audrey Black and an ace by Schmidt to trail by only four, 20-16. A Northwestern 3-0 gave the Wildcats a 23-19 advantage. With Iowa facing set point, Clayton recorded a kill for Iowa’s 21st point, but the Wildcats ended the set the following rally.

SET 5: (Northwestern, 16-14): Iowa trailed 6-3 to start the fifth set, but the Hawkeyes used a 5-3 run, highlighted by a huge swing and kill by Buzzerio and Ortega’s second ace of the match to force a Northwestern timeout. Trailing 12-10, the Hawkeyes went on a 4-0 run with kills by Clayton, Buzzerio, and Schmidt to hold match point. Facing two match points, Northwestern rattled off two kills and capitalized on a Buzzerio attacking error to take a 15-14 lead, earning its first match point. The Wildcats won the set and match on a service ace.


“Northwestern did a good job of working through the adversity presented in the third set. Joslyn (Boyer) did a great job of competing with every serve, which gave us the run in the third set. We have to stay hungry until the end of the match.”

“The team is working hard to earn every point. We are seeing the work we put in during the week for a balanced offense. Now we have to develop our defense in order to stop primary attackers.”


  • Iowa is 1-2 in five-set matches this season.
  • The Hawkeyes attacked at a higher percentage (.250) than Northwestern (.235).
  • Freshman Audrey Black record 10 kills for her fourth straight game with at least 10 kills.
  • Jones (.455) and Clayton (.412) each recorded an attacking percentage above .400.


Next weekend’s matches against No. 1 Wisconsin on March 5-6 have been postponed due to Wisconsin’s 14-day pause from COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Iowa’s next scheduled match is March 12 against Maryland at 5 p.m. (CT) in College Park, Maryland.

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