Sophomores flourishing in prominent roles for ISU volleyball


Photo: Riley Eveleth/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore Jenelle HudsonCQ sets the play for senior Tenisha MatlockCQ in Iowa State’s game against Kansas State on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Hilton Coliseum.

Dan Cole

In terms of leadership, a lot could change for the ISU volleyball team next season.

This year’s roster only includes two seniors in Kristen Hahn and Tenisha Matlock, but they’ve been on the court for all 57 of the Cyclones’ sets this season (with the exception of Matlock, who has played in 56).

The handing down of the reigns following Hahn’s and Matlock’s graduation will fall partially on Mackenzie Bigbee’s and Jenelle Hudson’s shoulders. The sophomore duo has started every match this season and has played in just as many sets as Hahn and Matlock.

“I think they’re finding out that the more that you play the more consistent you have to be,” Hahn said of Bigbee and Hudson. “I think they’re starting to show that, definitely. [They’re] people that we can go to when we need somebody to be a terminator and put the ball away.”

Hahn also said Hudson has been learning from the ISU coaches about when to become an attacking setter as opposed to a passing setter, something that has varied her offensive play.

Bigbee and Hudson did have their freshmen seasons last year to prepare for this season, but they played less significant roles then than they are now.

Bigbee, normally a right side hitter, currently ranks seventh in the Big 12 in kills per set with 3.39 and has had to deal with some changes near the middle of the schedule. Even still, she has continued to perform at a high level.

“She’s been awesome for us,” said ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “Especially as we’ve asked her midseason to become a back row player, as well. I think she’s really embraced that and is doing a great job with it. She’s a pretty elite player and I think she’s playing up to that level.”

Hudson currently ranks second in the Big 12 in assists per set with 11.39 and has dealt with the challenge of replacing last year’s setter, Alison Landwehr. Statistically, she’s done just that and more, as Landwehr finished last season third in the conference with 11.32 assists per set.

The handing-off of leadership has been a two-way interaction, also involving a mentoring aspect from the two seniors.

“They’re super great about it; they’re really helpful,” Bigbee said of Hahn and Matlock. “Hahn is always sharing stuff with us and she’s always encouraging us, too, to speak up and kind of take leadership positions. Tenisha, as well, in more game situations — she’s always really good about reminding me to talk to the other blockers and stuff.”

Bigbee and Hudson are just two of several underclassmen who are preparing for more prominent roles in their futures as Cyclones.