B1G Match 1: Gophers Visit Iowa (9-21-23)

Ignatius L Hoops

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The Big Ten opener finds Minnesota in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes are 8-4 with:

Wins over: Cal Poly (3-1), MIddle Tennessee (3-0), Kent State (3-2), South Dakota State (3-0), Central Michigan (3-2), Missouri State (3-1), Syracuse (3-0) and Cornell (3-0)

Losses to: Sacramental State (0-3), Nevada (2-3), Iowa State (2-3) and Grand Canyon (0-3)
 



A brief look at the Hawkeyes:

The 2023 season is off to a strong start for the Iowa women’s volleyball team.

Coming off a 2022 season where the team finished with a 10-21 record, the Hawkeyes are heading into Big Ten play at 8-4, almost matching their win total from last season.

This is the best start to a season for Iowa women’s volleyball since the 2016 season, when the Hawkeyes headed into Big Ten play with a 11-2 record and went on to finish the season 18-15. All of Iowa’s wins from that season were vacated, however, as former Hawkeye head coach Bond Shymansky violated NCAA rules by giving an incoming transfer $2,000 to bypass getting a job so she could focus on academics. All wins were vacated from the 2017 season as well. Shymansky was fired in June of 2019 as a result.


Prior to the scandal, Iowa also had a promising start to the 2015 season, grabbing onto a 10-2 record before Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes would go on to finish the season with a 19-13 record.

Second-year head coach Jim Barnes is already making his presence felt for the Hawkeyes. In his first year as head coach, Iowa women’s volleyball improved by four wins from its previous season, going from 6-24 in 2021 to 10-21 in 2022.

Despite the strong start, Barnes is aiming for success that the program hasn’t seen in a long time.

The Iowa women’s volleyball team has not finished with a positive record in Big Ten play in over two decades. Despite the overall winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, the team finished with conference records of 9-11 and 7-13, respectively. The 9-11 conference record was the closest the Hawkeyes have been to a winning conference record during the two-decade span.

The Big Ten is arguably the most difficult conference to compete in for women’s volleyball. Throughout recent memory, the conference has been dominated by Wisconsin, who are the reigning four-time Big Ten champions. Teams like Nebraska, Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue, and Penn State have also been dominant, all finishing within the top six in the conference for the past three years. Iowa is winless in that span, going 0-26 against those six teams.

Despite Iowa’s struggles against the toughest Big Ten opponents, there is plenty of upside to look at from the preseason tournaments. In the four tournaments the Hawkeyes competed in, half of the team’s wins have come from teams with winning records last season, beating Cal Poly (17-13) and Central Michigan (20-12) in four sets and sweeping both South Dakota State (18-15) and Middle Tennessee (15-14). Iowa also beat Kent State (13-16) in five sets.

Iowa will open its Big Ten slate versus No. 12 Minnesota at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Xtream Arena in Coralville. The match will be broadcast on FS1 and Hawkeye Radio Network.
 


It should be a Gopher sweep, but who the hell knows? A setter in Shaffmaster, probably not at 100% and questioning her abilities and attack options. Hot and cold hitters and while Murr is still playing great, she's not playing to her full potential. If Iowa takes us to five, I wouldn't be surprised.
 



Any major chsnges, no matter how badly needed, will come too late if at all.

We’re going up or down with Schaff, Landfair, and Wucherer.

I don’t trust them, right now.
 


Gophers take first set 25-14. Wucherer with 6 kills (.556) and 2 aces.
 




Urquhart baffles Gophers with her serve (four kills) and Minnesota drops the second 25-20
 


Is our aggressive serve strategy working? Seem to be a lot of them in the net.
 





Odd that the venue is virtually empty. With no pro sports, I thought Iowa supported all of the Hawkeye teams.
 


Although, farmers are probably not into volleyball.
 






Schaff getting stuffed on her dump attempt
 


Nice f'ing overpass on that key set point.
 


Really need this win as they're probably gonna swept by Nebraska on Sunday.
 


Minnesota with 13 service errors (7 by Wucherer). Cook sees something others don't.
 




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