ISU volleyball revels in relaxation, recovery


Senior defensive specialist Taylor Goetz passes the ball during the match against the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Sept. 4. Iowa State defeated Omaha with a final score of 3-0.

Harrison March

After falling to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sept. 13, the ISU volleyball team can take a nice, deep breath.

First it was the prestigious AVCA Showcase on Aug. 29 and  Aug. 31, in which Iowa State lost two matches in three days. The following weekend, the Cyclones swept three teams in three days to go undefeated in the Iowa State Challenge.

This past weekend, Iowa State traveled north to Minneapolis to play in the Diet Coke Classic. The team played three matches in two days, dropping only the final match of the event to host Minnesota.

The Cyclones were just 16 days into the season and had played eight matches across three different events — a grind the starters certainly felt.

“You have to make sure you’re getting sleep, getting water, staying healthy and just being mentally prepared all the time,” said middle blocker Alexis Conaway. “I approach every game the same, but going into those I know it’s going to be physically demanding so you just always have to be ready.”

Iowa State has participated in at least two of these early-season pool-play invitationals each of the last five years.

Somewhat to head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch’s enjoyment, that part of the season is over.

“It’s kind of nice, though you tend to obsess about the team and everything they do,” Johnson-Lynch said of having a week to prepare for the team’s next match. “We were starting to break down a bit. It’s nice for recovery purposes and just mentally to have a little bit of a break before we go again.”

Moving forward, Iowa State will start to have two or three days off between every match. Senior setter and defensive specialist Taylor Goetz said having that extra time during preparation feels almost like a luxury.

“We’re really embracing that time and taking care of our bodies,” Goetz said. “It helps us with focusing on some things that we need to work on and improve on in practice.”

Just as the players are beginning to really hit their stride as a single unit on the court, Johnson-Lynch said that this is historically the time her coaching staff sees a spike in production from the team.

“Coaches tend to see jumps in performance once [the players] have had a little break because we’ve been going hard now for six weeks,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Time to relax, recover, watch film and prepare – it’s a head coach’s perfect recipe for success.

So with a Sept. 20 matchup against the rival Iowa Hawkeyes looming, perhaps the end of weekend invitationals is coming at the perfect time.

“We can just focus now on getting back to the basics, getting lots of reps in and take care of ourselves,” Conaway said. “If we do that, by the time we get to [the match against] Iowa, we’re at full strength.”