Volleyball seeks to solidify offense


Sophomore outside hitter Ciara Capezio prepares to rocket the ball into the Huskies’ end of the court during a set against Northern Illinois in the Iowa State Challenge on Sept. 6. The Cyclones defeated the Huskies in three straight sets.

Harrison March

The task at hand for ISU volleyball coach Christy Johnson-Lynch is a perennial one. Some years it only takes a match or two to determine. This, however, is not one of those years.

Through the first two weeks of the season, Johnson-Lynch has juggled between two offensive systems, the 5-1 and 6-2.

While the success that each style has had so far this season is certainly a factor, the decision of which to use rests largely on the roster.

“We’re still trying to figure things out,” Johnson-Lynch said last week. “I guess one of the good problems we have is [that] we have depth.”

Finding the perfect way to utilize that depth will be the key to establishing an effective ISU attack.

In the 5-1 system, the six players on the court consist of five attackers and one designated setter. This rotation is often used by teams with one setter who stands above the rest in terms of quality of play and communication on the court.

The 6-2 differs in that two setters are on the court at a time, always opposite of each other in the rotation. Whichever setter is in the back row will set on that point, while the front-row setter is considered an attacker.

Discovering the ideal system for Iowa State’s roster also rests largely on the offensive philosophies of speed and balance Johnson-Lynch believes in.

“Either way, I think our offense is going to be a fast-paced offense,” said outside hitter Ciara Capezio. “We just hit high and everything we can, we make it fast. Even out-of-system balls, if they’re 20 feet off the net, we still want to get them.”

Offensive balance was an area of concern for Johnson-Lynch in the Cyclones’ season-opening losses to two ranked opponents, but she thinks the team improved during last weekend’s Iowa State Challenge.

“I thought [Sept. 6] when we were pretty balanced, we were very hard to stop,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’re finding that if we can distribute our sets a little more evenly that it opens other people up.”

Following the second match of the year, Johnson-Lynch said she would like to pick a primary system by the time conference play rolls around. For the Cyclones, that comes when they head to Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 27 to face Texas Christian University. Between now and then, Iowa State will have five chances to look at each rotation.

Though the decision will have a sizeable impact on Iowa State’s success this year, outside hitter Victoria Hurtt said it will be hard to go wrong.

“We’re still just trying to mix some people in, see what’s working and trying to learn how to mesh,” Hurtt said. “We’re a young team so we’re working hard trying to figure out what’s going to work for us. We flow well in both systems so whatever is decided, I think it’ll go well.”