By Anna Kayser
Iowa volleyball picked up a 3-1 win against Ohio State on Nov. 11 for Senior Night and its final game of the season in Carver-Hawkeye.
The Hawkeyes closed out the first set on 4-straight points to win, 25-18, but the Buckeyes rallied in the second set. With Ohio State up, 21-12, Iowa went on a 10-3 run to cut the lead to 3. Despite the comeback, Ohio State took the set, 25-22, to even up the match at 1.
“Came out pretty well in the first set, went a little soft in the second set, and kudos to Ohio State and their staff,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “I thought Coach Carlston did a great job of getting their group to battle on.”
Iowa couldn’t capitalize on Ohio State’s 8 service errors in the second set. Senior middle blocker Kelsey O’Neill led the Hawkeyes with only 3 kills, and the offense as a whole only recorded a set attack percentage of .086.
“We fell too far behind too early on, and even though there were those sparks that kind of brought us back into the match and the intensity really ramped up again, it was almost too little too late,” O’Neill said.
The comeback late in the second set pushed Iowa’s momentum into the third and fourth sets.
The third set featured six ties and three lead changes. With the score tied at 22, the Hawkeyes finished out the tight set with 3-straight points to take the match advantage.
Iowa took the early lead in the fourth set, and although Ohio State made it close, Iowa went on to close out the 25-23 to secure the match.
Junior outside hitter Taylor Louis led the Hawkeyes with 17 kills while also recording 10 digs for her first double-double of the season. O’Neill and senior middle blocker Jess Janota recorded 11 kills each. The Hawkeye offense as a whole finished with 58 kills and a .268 attack percentage.
Closing out the last two tight sets was a first for Iowa this season.
“There were a lot of people in those moments tonight who really stepped up … so it was just kind of that leadership quality coming up,” O’Neill said. “Sometimes, you get kind of internal when it gets really close and gets really tight — like tense — but we play better loose, and that’s what we did tonight so we came up on top.”
Pushing through the tight moments comes with team chemistry, something the Hawkeyes have had from the first day.
“I think that’s how we play our best, just being all bought in for each other, with each other, and so I think that showed tonight,” Janota said.
A win on Senior Night is something that Shymansky hasn’t seen in his four years in the program, but it’s something that was a driving force during the match.
However, with four road games left in the season, the focus is still on receiving an NCAA Tournament bid.
“We love our seniors and to watch them win at home is really special,” Shymansky said. “A few tears of joy to shed, I’m sure, but a lot left to go in the season and a lot bigger fish to fry.”