Cyclones were solid defensively against Baylor but couldn’t win close sets

Iowa State volleyball faced Penn State on Sept. 6, 2019. Penn State won 3-0.

Sam Stuve

Iowa State came into Wednesday night’s matchup at Hilton Coliseum, hoping to do something that has only happened once in program history, knocking off the top-ranked team in the country.

To do this, they had to defeat the 13-0 (3-0 Big 12) Baylor Lady Bears, who hadn’t lost a set in their last seven matches.

Baylor did sweep Iowa State 3-0, but two of those sets were decided by two points each.

“A lot of that (the close sets) comes down to, [when] you’re under pressure, can you put the ball away, can you stick to the gameplan and can you focus on what your job needs to be,” junior setter Piper Mauck said. “We’re getting there, but we need to clean a few of our plays.”

The Cyclones had a strong performance defensively, holding the Lady Bears to a hitting percentage of .214, a season-low for the Lady Bears. However, the same can’t be said for its offense.

Baylor neutralized Iowa State’s attack, which came into Wednesday’s game, third out of nine in the Big 12 in hitting percentage with a .271.

Defensively, Baylor has been great all year long, leading the Big 12 in lowest opponent hitting percentage and holding its opponents to a .143 hitting percentage.

Iowa State only hit .147 against Baylor.

“They’re [Baylor] a really good blocking and defensive team, they do such a good job of doing things well that don’t show up on a stat sheet,” Iowa State coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “We’ve been hitting so well, but [tonight] was a reflection of what they [Baylor] do well defensively.”

After erasing an early eight point deficit early in the first set, the Cyclones stormed back and tied the set multiple times.

One of the main factors which led to the rally was how effective their blocking was. In the first set, the Cyclones had five blocks, which gave them a solid shot at winning set one.

“We kept getting them out of their system and when another team it’s very easy to know who they’re going to,” redshirt sophomore Avery Rhodes said. “We have been taught from day one that we need to close the block and there will not be a seam and that’s what we did well.”

However, the Lady Bears won the set 26-24. In the set, Iowa State hit .122 and Baylor hit .138 in the first set.

The Cyclones continued their strong blocking in the second set as they added two more blocks to bring its match total to seven in the match, but the Bears won the second set 25-18.

Baylor’s defense improved in the second set, holding Iowa State to a .062 hitting percentage. However, Iowa State also played well defensively in the second set as they held Baylor to a .147 hitting percentage.

In the third set, Baylor held a slight advantage early on, holding a four-point lead.

Iowa State tied up the set multiple times and held a 23-22 lead in the third set, but Baylor rallied to win the set 27-25.

Junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley and redshirt senior middle block Shelly Stafford led the way for the Bears on the attack.

Pressley hit 15 kills despite a poor hitting percentage of .156, but Stafford hit ten kills and hit .412 on the night.

Only one Cyclone broke double-digits in kills — freshman outside hitter Annie Hatch who had ten kills on 30 attacks and a .233 hitting percentage.

Iowa State is now 11-5 (2-2 Big 12) this season.