ISU volleyball pushes forward for ‘comfortable’ home start to Big 12 play


Photo: Grace Steenhagen/Iowa State Daily

Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch gives the team a pep talk after the first set. Iowa State finished the game with a total of 34 kills and six service aces.

Clint Cole

The end of September is near and the nonconference slate for the No. 25 ISU volleyball team has come to an end after a 3-1 victory over Iowa last Saturday in Iowa City. The Cyclones (6-4) will begin Big 12 play this Saturday against Baylor (7-8) at Hilton Coliseum.

The Cyclones had a strong start going 4-0 to begin the season but are just 2-4 in their last six matches, and they have yet to defeat a ranked opponent. ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said they looked fatigued against Iowa despite the four-set victory and a week between their last two matches, so they will be taking a few days off this week.

“I think we kept pushing last week,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We played a lot of matches, and last week, we gave them a little bit of time off Monday but not much, and so I’m not surprised.”

Out of 10 matches this season only three have been at home and the Cyclones have a 0-2 record at Hilton Coliseum this year. Johnson-Lynch said “it’s great” to be opening the conference slate at home.

“We’ve been on the road a lot, so I think that will help quite a bit,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’ve only played two home matches in Hilton, so it’ll be nice to get back and get comfortable in our home gym again. And we’ve been really good at home in the past and we did not open the season well at home so we need to find that again.”

The Cyclones are young this year with just two seniors, Kristen Hahn and Tenisha Matlock, and two juniors, Victoria Hurtt and Taylor Goetz. While Johnson-Lynch said the team is making strides, but she also said she hoping they would be a little further along than they are now.

“One of the biggest numbers that sticks out to me is what our opponents are hitting on the season. They’re hitting for a very high percentage,” Johnson-Lynch said. “How can we do that and what can we do to affect that, what can we do to lower that number? And there’s lots of ways. There’s serving tough; it’s blocking well; it’s playing good defense; it’s transition. There’s a lot that goes into that number, but that number we’ve got to figure out a way to get lower. It’s just too high right now.”

Johnson-Lynch said that sometimes it is hard to pinpoint why their opponents are hitting as well as they are.

“I don’t have the best answer for that because we’re serving so tough so you would think that we’re putting a lot of pressure on opponents but for some reason that number continues to be too high,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think we’re just trying to find answers and figure out where do we need to improve and how will that affect our opponents hitting percentage and keep that down a little bit.”

Baylor is eighth out of nine in the Big 12 in hit percentage so far this season, with a .210. The Cyclones rank fifth with a .241 percentage.

When it comes to serving tough so far this season, sophomores Caitlin Nolan and Tory Knuth are tied for second among Big 12 players in service aces with 0.39 per set. That is just behind Texas Tech’s Breeann David who has 0.46 service aces per set.