CORALVILLE, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball team was edged by Illinois, 3-2, Wednesday night at Xtream Arena in the Big Ten conference opener for both teams.
Senior outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio registered a match-best 24 kills. Freshman setter Jenna Splitt had 20 assists, senior libero Maddie Slagle tallied 24 digs, junior defensive specialist Mari Hinkle amassed 20 digs, and freshman outside hitter Addie VanderWeide was credited with 19 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
SET 1 (Iowa, 26-24): Illinois began to pull ahead after a 3-3 tie, but big kills from Amiya Jones evened the score at 8-8. The Illini built a four-point lead, 15-11, but scrappy play and precise swings Iowa rallied to tie the score, 20-20. After multiple long rallies, the score was tied up at 23-23. An Illini service error and a big kill by Buzzerio secured the set for the Hawkeyes
SET 2 (Illinois, 25-20): The beginning of set two consisted of cat-and-mouse scoring. The score tied many times at 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16. An ace for Slagle put the Hawkeyes up, 19-18. The Illini tied it back up right away at 19 and again at 20. Illinois scored two straight points to force an Iowa time out. Illinois maintained their momentum scoring the final six points to take the set.
SET 3 (Illinois, 25-20): The Hawkeyes came out with a strong start, scoring the first two points. Illinois then went on a four-point run. On par with the previous sets, the teams came back to tie at 10 and 12. After more rallying, the score tied again at 16, 17, and 18. Illinois scored seven of the last nine points to win the third set.
SET 4 (Iowa, 25-17): Iowa came out with a three-point run to start set three. The Hawkeyes went on to take the first big run, setting them at 12-7, to force an Illini time out. Iowa continued its run until, 14-9. The Hawkeyes continued to bring energy and execution throughout the set cruising to an eight-win victory.
SET 5 (Illinois, 15-5): Iowa scored the first point of the set, but Illinois answered by scoring 11 of the next 12 points to take command and ultimately win the set and match.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH VICKI BROWN
“This whole season so far, we knew we had a team that could do that. Looking at those four sets — six players on the court making plays — and it is a good moment to build on moving forward. We almost had three people in our back court with 20 digs. That says a lot of how determined we are. As a program we talk a lot about grit, you see that in that stat line. Courtney had 24 kills; right side versus right side, she definitely won that game.”
- Freshman Jenna Splitt made her debut tonight, collecting 20 assists and two block assists.
- Hannah Clayton hit a team-best .438 (seven kills on 16 total attacks).
The Hawkeyes travel to Lincoln to compete against No. 12 Nebraska on Saturday. First serve is scheduled for 2 p.m. (CT) at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.