ISU volleyball serving tough early in the season


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Assisted by sophomore Jenelle Hudson’s set, redshirt sophomore Tory Knuth goes for a kill against Baylor on Sept. 28 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones shut out the Bears 3-0.

Clint Cole

ISU volleyball coach Christy Johnson-Lynch feels like a broken record when she talks about working on the team’s out-of-system play. Early this season, the No. 25 ISU volleyball team has also been good at forcing opposing team’s to move into their out-of-system play and rank No. 1 in the Big 12 in service aces.

Iowa State has a 1.69 service aces per set average while West Virginia, ranked second,  has 1.38 service aces per set. Early on in the season, the Cyclones’ tough serving has made an impact.

“If you can serve really well and get the other teams out of system right away it’s a lot easier for us to defend those balls,” ISU junior Mackenzie Bigbee said. “It’s harder for them to run the plays that they want to which will give us more free balls.”

The Cyclones have two players in the top five in the Big 12 in service aces, junior Tory Knuth and sophomore Caitlin Nolan. Knuth is first in the conference with 0.52 aces per set and Nolan is fourth with 0.36 aces per set.

Johnson-Lynch said she doesn’t think she’s ever seen a middle blocker like Knuth on top of the conference in aces.

“She’s got a little bit of an unorthodox serve that drops, and it’s very hard to pass,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We don’t have a poor server on our team. Every single rotation, everyone that steps back to serve is pretty effective.”

Knuth attributes their success with serving to the amount of work they are putting into it this season.

“It’s been a really big key for us,” Knuth said. “When you’re a good serving team it makes it a lot easier for you and it makes it a lot easier for your defense and blocks.”

Johnson-Lynch said they have players that came into the program with good serving ability.

“I think we’ve identified that we can do that really well so let’s make it something we’re exceptional on,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Not just good at, but let’s be exceptional at it.”

She added that they have been paying special attention to it in practice more this year than they have in years past.

“We’ve spent a lot more time serving this year than in years past and I think we’ve paid attention to service errors in practice, keeping track of that and making players accountable for it rather than just serving and just kind of doing it mindlessly.”