IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa volleyball team knocked off No. 17 Purdue in five sets Friday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to register its third straight Big Ten win. The Hawkeyes improved to 13-4 overall (3-2 B1G) with the victory, marking the team’s best start to a season since 1988.
“They are such an inspiring group,” said UI head coach Bond Shymansky. “It was really a great balanced night for our entire team. We had a great crowd; there is so much energy in Carver and around the program right now. We are so proud of our group. What a great start to the weekend.”
Five hitters reached double digits in kills to lead Hawkeyes to their first win over a ranked opponent since Sept. 12, 2015 (No. 25 Texas A&M). Redshirt freshman Meghan Buzzerio led the charge with 13, while senior Ashley Mariani (12), sophomore Reghan Coyle (12), senior Lauren Brobst (11), and junior Jess Janota (10) also reached double digits. Mariani was the most efficient, hitting .429 with 12 kills in 21 attempts with just three errors. Senior setter Loxley Keala dished out a season-high 48 assists, junior libero Annika Olsen paced the team with 13 digs, and Janota led the team with a career-high seven blocks (1 BS, 6 BA).
“The beauty of what we did tonight was really the balance,” said Shymansky. “To have five players reach double digits in kills and to not have to count on one player was huge. The most important thing that we were doing was focusing on what was happening on our side of the net.”
After a back-and-forth battle to begin set one, the Hawkeyes used a 4-1 run to take an 18-15 lead. Janota (1) and Brobst (2) added kills to the rally, while Janota and Keala combined for a block. Purdue responded, scoring four straight points to tie the set, 20-20. The Hawkeyes fought back, taking advantage of four Boilermaker errors to establish a 23-21 advantage. Following a Purdue timeout, Buzzerio registered a pair of kills to seal the 25-22 set-one victory. The Hawkeyes hit .360 in the set, registering 13 kills in 25 attempts with just four errors. Buzzerio led the way with four kills, while Keala dished out 12 assists.
After dropping sets two (27-25) and three (25-20), the Hawkeyes battled back in set four. Iowa opened the set with a 3-0 run behind a Brobst kill and a block assist (Coyle and Janota). The Hawkeyes held on to the momentum from there, utilizing a 7-1 rally to extend its lead to nine, 22-13. Mariani guided the rally with three kills, while Coyle, Keala, and Buzzerio each added one. Iowa held on from there, fending off a late 5-0 Purdue run to win the set, 25-21, and tie the match at two sets apiece. Iowa hit .343 in the set with 17 kills. Mariani led the charge with four, and Coyle, Keala, Brobst, and Janota each added three.
After a pair of Iowa errors gave Purdue an 11-9 lead in set five, Shymansky called a timeout. His team responded, closing the match-deciding set with a 6-2 run to win, 15-13. Coyle (2), Brobst (1), and Buzzerio all added kills to the rally, while Keala served an ace.
“Momentum is so important,” said Shymansky. “It’s important in any sport, and it’s especially important in Big Ten volleyball. Now that we are on this three-match win streak, we need turn right back around tomorrow and make it four against a really tough Indiana team.”
Iowa returns to action Saturday, hosting Indiana at 7 p.m. (CT) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. All fans are encouraged to wear white, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free whiteout t-shirt.