Individual ISU standouts highlight Diet Coke Classic

Harrison March

Nothing came easily to the ISU volleyball team at the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis on Sept. 12 and 13.

The Cyclones (5-3, 0-0 Big 12) went 2-1 on the weekend, topping Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Tulsa but falling to No. 19 Minnesota. Seven of the 11 total sets played by Iowa State throughout the weekend were decided by five points or fewer.

Iowa State’s matches were highlighted by strong individual performances, starting with outside hitter Victoria Hurtt and setter Suzanne Horner in Sept. 12’s matchup with Milwaukee.

Hurtt led the ISU attack with 11 kills and a hitting percentage of .385. It was the 40th double-digit kills match for the former honorable mention All-American.

Horner racked up her second double-double of the season, tallying 30 assists and 12 digs.

In Iowa State’s matchup with Tulsa, the first of two matches for the Cyclones on Sept. 13, it was the freshmen who shined brightest.

Outside hitter turned middle blocker Alexis Conaway turned in career games on both sides of the net, going for 12 kills with a .476 hitting percentage and setting a freshman school record with 11 block assists.

Redshirt freshman Samara West also set career-high marks of 11 kills and four block assists.

Iowa State’s biggest match of the weekend came in the form of Sept. 13’s nightcap against No. 19 Minnesota, and an all-too-familiar problem arose.

The Cyclones were unable to capitalize on the chance to take down a ranked team, dropping their record against such foes to 0-3 on the year.

After losing the first two sets of the match to the Golden Gophers, Iowa State came out to take the third set and looked to be in position to force a deciding fifth set.

It was not to be, however, as host team Minnesota edged the Cyclones 25-23 to take the match 3-1.

Along with right side hitter Mackenzie Bigbee, the Cyclones were again led offensively by Hurtt as both players tallied 13 kills.

Those numbers paled in comparison to Minnesota’s Sarah Wilhite and Daly Santana, who put up 18 and 17 kills, respectively.

Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch has stressed the importance of establishing a strong block this season, and it appeared to pay off in the Diet Coke Classic.

The Cyclones had double-digit blocks in every match of the weekend, and going back to their match against Northern Illinois on Sept. 6, have achieved that feat in four straight matches for the first time since 2007.

After playing three matches in two days, Iowa State will have a week off to prepare to host the University of Iowa Hawkeyes on Sept. 20.