Notre Dame standout is ready for volleyball season at U of I.
By John Bohnenkamp Burlington Beacon
Gabby Deery has been a member of the Iowa volleyball team since arriving on campus this summer, but Saturday’s (Aug. 19) intrasquad scrimmage at Xtream Arena was finally going to be the moment she wanted.
“It’s been so surreal,” Deery said in the media session before the scrimmage. “I’ve always wanted to be a Hawkeye. I feel like with this scrimmage, it will finally sink in — being on the court and competing. Yeah, it will be against each other, but it will be like, ‘I’m actually here as a Hawkeye.’”
Deery, the Notre Dame High School graduate who led the Nikes to two state championships, is competing for playing time at outside hitter for the Hawkeyes. Her work in the preseason impressed second-year coach Jim Barnes.
“She’s been a surprise, as a freshman, for how hard-working and serious she is in the gym,” Barnes said. “She gets in there and works hard, and that’s what I’m mostly proud of. We put her on the right side to add some depth, but she’s competing. She’s trying to win a position. And that surprised me too.”
“She’s diligent, hard-working. She’s a perfectionist. All of those things surprised me. I knew she’d be a good addition, but she’s surprised all of us. She’s getting after it.”
Deery, who had more than 1,500 kills with the Nikes, is playing a right-side hitter’s spot, a position she is getting comfortable with during practice.
“I have a little experience on the right side,” she said. “It’s the same basics. There’s not much to it.”
Deery is one of six freshmen Barnes brought in during the offseason, a rebuilding class that includes three transfers after a season in which the Hawkeyes went 10-21, 4-16 in the Big Ten.
Deery holds Notre Dame’s records in career kills, career blocks, single-season kills, single-season blocks, and single-season aces. She was the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Class 1A state player of the year for the last two seasons.
“It was an easy decision,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level of volleyball. It’s close to home. Great program, with great coaches. It all worked out for me.
“I’m super excited for what Coach Barnes has in store for our team. He has great goals for us, and I know we can fulfill those goals.”
Deery arrived on campus at the end of June and worked in the summer program led by the team’s captains. Once she could work with the coaches, her education has grown.
“They definitely keep us busy and I love it,” she said. “I really feel like I’ve been improving in these first two weeks of preseason. We’re always in the gym, and I’m glad we get the film, and coaches give us feedback.
“I have learned so much getting to compete with everyone in the gym. We have this thing where we’re not competing against each other, we’re competing with one another. And so that’s helpful in getting to learn new things.”
“She’s good at everything,” Barnes said.
“But she needs to be great at hitting, at blocking — two big things on the right side. That’s the thing — she’s got all of the tools to be great. She really does. It’s going to take work to get to our level. But it’s impressed us that she is good at everything. She’s a well-rounded player.”