Last year, the University of Iowa went 19-13—their best season in twenty five years. Though they lost some players to graduation, such as All-Big Ten Honorable Mention setter Loxley Keala, the Hawkeyes bring in a top 30 recruiting class and some talented transfers, including former Marquette star opposite Taylor Louis. As made evident in today’s press conference, head coach Bond Shymansky is optimistic about the future of Iowa volleyball—for this season and onwards.
“I think this year we’re going to be steadier. We’re going to be a little bit more stable, but we’re definitely going to be more physically dynamic. We, like I said, just continue to get higher, faster, and stronger.” Shymansky told the attendees. Last season Iowa certainly had talent, but struggled with some inconsistency. With the additions of talented players and the development of the returning players, it is undoubted the Hawkeyes will certainly see improved consistency on the court. However, in the toughest volleyball conference in the nation, an upward trend is easier said than done. “…everybody in the Big Ten is big and physical,” he noted, acknowledging his team will need to play smarter to find success.
Shymansky seems to believe his 2017 squad is good enough to win it all, though—at least in conference. “…is to win the Big Ten Conference, and I think our team is good enough to do that.”
The team’s improvement is not the only thing discussed by the head coach earlier today. As seen in the last few years, especially in the Big 10, leadership is crucial for a team’s success—think Lauren Carlini with Wisconsin and Taylor Sandbothe with Ohio State—and this year leaders seem to be emerging all across the roster for the Hawkeyes. “You know, we have three captains, but we really don’t hold captains to be the only leaders. We’ve had some tremendous leadership this year in terms of intensity that’s coming from Annika Olsen, our senior libero. We’ve had great social leadership from Molly Kelly, who is being thoughtful about the impact of the greater world on our group.
Shymansky was also asked about Taylor Louis, an Honorable Mention All-American transfer from Marquette. The 6-2 opposite hitter is seemingly locked into a starting spot for the Hawkeye squad this coming season. Taylor Louis has been awesome. She is physically very talented. She’s very gifted as a hitter and a blocker… Taylor has been a real joy to coach, and definitely, we want to push her.”
Despite speaking of the warm, familial environment the team seems to have cultured, Shymansky was insistent upon the necessity of the mental aspect of the game for his Hawkeyes this coming season. “…mentally you need to be flawless. You can’t back down. There can’t be moments where you say to yourself, I don’t think I can do this or I wonder if I can do this,” he said, saying that mental toughness is certainly an ongoing process for his team.
Shymansky, his staff, and his players all seem to be optimistic for this coming season, and with a talented roster and close-knit team, the Hawkeyes could be in for another unprecedented season in Iowa City.