By Anna Kayser
The Iowa volleyball team dropped matches to both Michigan and No. 10 Michigan State this past weekend, making its Big Ten record 4-8 heading into the last month of the season.
On Oct. 28, Iowa battled with No. 10 Michigan State. The first set featured 15 ties and five lead changes. The Hawkeyes took the lead at 22-20 following a 6-1 surge, but the Spartans battled back to tie the score, 24-24, then went on to win, 26-24.
Michigan State didn’t let it get so close in the second set. After Iowa came back on a 9-4 run to cut the lead to 18-14, Michigan State jumped further ahead and took the match, 25-16.
Down 2-0 in the match, the Hawkeyes fought hard in the third set. A kill by freshman outside hitter Claire Sheehan tied the set at 8 and propelled the Hawkeyes into an 11-3 run.
Iowa took the set, 25-16.
The fourth set was another close one. The Spartans jumped out to an early lead, but the Hawkeyes came within 1 point late to have a chance. Michigan State went on a 4-1 run to douse that hope and win the match, 3-1.
Junior outside hitter Taylor Louis recorded a personal best 20 kills with a .356 attack percentage. Sheehan followed with 12 kills.
Iowa out-blocked Michigan State, 10-5, something that head coach Bond Shymansky was surprised but pleased about.
“[Michigan State] is one of the best blocking teams in the country,” he said in a release. “That’s a testament to Vicki Brown and the work she is doing as our blocking coach, but we really worked hard and stayed focused on the game plan. That was fantastic.”
Shymansky said he’s proud that the Hawkeyes battled, even though they didn’t come out with a win.
“What a great, gritty performance by our team,” Shymansky said in a release. “Even right out of the gate in the first set, we were right there. We got a little soft in the second set for about four or five minutes, and that was enough with their serving combination. We had a great comeback and really put it to them in the third set, and I just like how our group is fighting.”
The night before, Iowa took a tough loss to unranked Michigan, a team it beat, 3-1, earlier in the season.
The first set started out close, with the score tied at 11. Michigan jumped ahead in the middle of the set and never looked back, winning, 25-17.
The Wolverines continued that momentum in the second set, in which they never trailed. They beat the Hawkeyes, 25-15, running the match advantage to 2-0.
Iowa battled in the third set, taking a 14-13 lead. The teams went point for point, but with the score knotted at 24, Michigan took the next 2 points and the match.
“It was a super-flat start for us,” Shymansky said in a release. “It took us too long to get the motor revved. After beating Michigan at home, we knew that they were going to bring everything they could to compete hard against us here in Ann Arbor. You could just feel it during the first set. They had an intensity level that we weren’t willing to match.”