ISU volleyball’s Tenisha Matlock joins ISU women’s basketball


Senior middle blocker Tenisha Matlock goes for the kill against Texas on Nov. 27 at Hilton Coliseum. On her senior night Matlock recorded a .200 percentage on kills in the 1-3 loss.

Maddy Arnold

ISU coach Bill Fennelly said his team might just be the shortest Division I women’s basketball team in the country.

In the game against Cal State Fullerton on Sunday sophomore forward Madison Baier tore the ACL in her right knee. With the 6-foot-4-inch Baier out for the season, the ISU women’s basketball team was left with 11 players, only two of which are over 6-feet.

After learning of the severity of Baier’s injury, Fennelly decided he needed to add a taller player to his roster. Senior middle blocker Tenisha Matlock — who just finished her last season with the ISU volleyball team — officially joined the basketball team on Dec. 10.

“We’ve never done it before and I don’t know if it’s going to work, not work,” Fennelly said. “If she can develop into any kind of basketball player and give us a couple of minutes, then great. If not, then whatever.

“We had to do something or just completely change our offense when Hallie [Christofferson is] out of the game. You don’t want to do that right now. We do have time after the Iowa game, but that was kind of our thinking.”

Fennelly said Iowa State considered multiple options to fill out its roster, even holding open tryouts for the team. Fennelly settled on offering Matlock a spot on the team after Pete Link — the head strength and conditioning coordinator — suggested Matlock as a possible fit.

Link had met Matlock before this season when he helped with strength and conditioning of Olympic sports at Iowa State. Link spoke to Matlock on the night of Dec. 9 about the possibility of playing basketball.

The next day, Matlock agreed and began practicing with the team. Matlock’s eligibility is still pending, but Fennelly said he hopes to find out Dec. 11 from the NCAA about eligibility, but “anticipates” her being able to play.

“There is a time and a place for someone that just has some length and if that’s what she can do and find a niche and figure out what it takes to play basketball,” Fennelly said. “I’ve never seen her play, ever. Tonight I’ll see her for the first time but sometimes you got to take chances.”

Despite going to Iowa State for volleyball, Matlock does have some basketball experience. She played basketball for her high school in North Platte, Neb. and was a three-year letter winner. Matlock also told Fennelly she played intramural basketball.

Fennelly said although Matlock’s talents lie in volleyball, she brings a winning mentality to the ISU basketball team from her experiences with the ISU volleyball team. She went to four-straight NCAA tournaments and even made the Elite Eight her sophomore year with Iowa State.

“She’s played on a winning team,” Fennelly said. “Christy [Johnson-Lynch] has always been really good at finding those kids who are athletic and long and physical.”

Fennelly said that Iowa State would reevaluate the situation on Dec. 20 — when the team takes a break for the Christmas holiday — to decide whether or not Matlock likes playing basketball.

“It’s a little bit of a relief,” said junior guard Brynn Williamson. “It’ll be nice to have a bigger body practice-wise is what’s really going to help us right now getting ready for these games. Seeing what she does in the next couple days practice she might play a little.”