Iowa State Challenge to test ISU volleyball’s resolve, endurance


Brian Mozey/Iowa State Daily

Outside hitter Ciara Capezio bumps the ball to setter Suzanne Horner. Capezio had four digs and two assists in the match against Florida State on Aug. 31. 

Max Dible

The ISU volleyball team stumbled twice during its opening weekend but is focusing on keeping the losses in perspective as it looks toward the rest of the 2014 campaign.

The Cyclones produced disappointing results during the AVCA Showcase, falling 3-0 to both No. 3 Stanford and No. 13 Florida State, which this week are rated second and eighth in the nation, respectively.

“I asked the team not to be disheartened, even though it didn’t feel very good over the weekend,” said ISU head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “I know we’re talented and we’re going to get better. It’s important where we are in November and December — not so much this time of year.”

The Cyclones face a different test this weekend as they host the Iowa State Challenge, which will take place in Hilton Coliseum from Sept. 4 through Sept. 6.

The competition is not elite — Omaha, Northern Illinois and Tennessee were all passed over for top-25 votes this week.

However, Iowa State will take to the court for its matches against its three opponents on three consecutive days.

Sophomore Ciara Capezio said that because of the tournament-style setting, fatigue will be an opponent as much as any of the teams the Cyclones are set to play.

“You’re going to be tired,” Capezio said. “Physically, you’re going to be exhausted and mentally you’re going to be exhausted. But if you can mentally prepare yourself to be strong, that is all you need.”

Junior Mackenzie Bigbee took an optimistic view as she explained the flip side to the rigors of a condensed schedule and its utility in getting over a disheartening weekend.

“It’s definitely good,” Bigbee said. “We should remember to hold on to the stuff we learned, but it will also be nice to have something to focus on so we’re not just dwelling on [the losses].”

Much of what the Cyclones learned is where they are weak and which aspects of their game must make strides.

Capezio said a few of the areas in which Iowa State hopes to improve are minimizing the number of errors committed while also being stronger around the net and increasing blocks.

Johnson-Lynch said the team is still under construction in some ways as she experiments with different strategic styles and lineups, trying to put the right players in the right places to optimize talent.

The Iowa State Challenge should be helpful in that regard.

“We won’t be so concerned with what they’re doing,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think if we execute well on our side, no matter what they’re doing over there, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

The Cyclones will meet Omaha at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at Hilton Coliseum.