Iowa State will play No. 22 Kansas in battle of ranked Big 12 teams

Maddy Arnold

The first time Iowa State played Kansas this season the Jayhawks were ranked No. 22. Kansas is back at the No. 22 spot for Nov. 20 match, but this time Iowa State is ranked, as well.

The No. 24 ISU volleyball team (17-6, 10-2 Big 12) will play Kansas (20-6, 10-3 Big 12) on Nov. 20 for the first time since beating the Jayhawks in five sets on the road. The win against Kansas a month ago started Iowa State’s seven match-winning streak.

“[Kansas is] actually a very good road team,” said ISU head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “They might play better on the road than they do at home, so we have to expect as good or better match this time around. They’ll have been able to make some good adjustments for us.”

The first matchup between the two teams was Iowa State’s only win against a ranked opponent all season. It was a tight match for the Cyclones, never winning a set by more than four points.

The fifth set was the closest. Iowa State was down 12-11 before going on a 4-1 run to win the set 15-13. During the match, senior libero Kristen Hahn had 35 digs while senior middle blocker Tenisha Matlock led the offense with 18 kills against the Jayhawks.

Despite winning the first match, Matlock said Iowa State will prepare all over again for a Kansas team that might be different the second time around.

“I know on our side of the court we’ll be playing our defense where on the other side of the court they’ll start prepping us for our opponent’s defense there,” Matlock said. “We just get going on their tendencies early.”

Starting with the win against Kansas, Iowa State went on a seven-match winning streak including four sweeps in the last four matches. The streak has put the Cyclones back into the top-25 after dropping out at the beginning of October.

In addition to the winning streak, Iowa State still has goals left it wants to accomplish in the regular season and in the post season. Iowa State has stressed winning-out its four remaining matches before the NCAA tournament.

“We’re just looking to go out and just kill every team that we can,” Hahn said. “Give them our best game and play as hard as we can and be very aggressive that’s the mindset we take.”

Kansas is currently third in the Big 12, just behind second-place Iowa State. Both teams have 10 Big 12 wins apiece and are behind first-place Texas with 12 conference wins.

In addition to fighting for Big 12 rankings, Iowa State is also playing for a chance to host the first rounds of the NCAA tournament in December.

“Where we’re at in the season every match is key,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’re not going to play [the standings] up or play it down. We probably won’t really talk about it. I think the players know enough to know that it’s important no matter what.”