Hot start leads ISU volleyball into rivalry with UNI at Cedar Falls


Photo: Yanhua Huang/ Iowa State Daily

No. 6 Kristen Hahn cheers her teammates up after they lose the first set. The ISU volleyball team played a the season’s first scrimmage game on Aug. 24 at Hilton Coliseum.

Dan Cole

The ISU volleyball team has started its season in ideal fashion.

The Cyclones (3-0), ranked No. 15 in the AVCA Coaches Poll going into last weekend, knocked off all three of their opponents in Grand Forks, N.D., and moved up to No. 11 in the latest poll, released Monday.

The weekend’s performance was pretty dominating, with the Cyclones losing just one set through all three matches.

“I was really pleased with the start,” said ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “Everybody hit really well on the weekend and that was really exciting to see. That doesn’t happen very often, where you feel like you have four or five options every night.”

On Wednesday, the Cyclones will travel to Cedar Falls for their annual matchup with in-state rival Northern Iowa. The Panthers (1-2) began their season in Salt Lake City last weekend, winning just one of three matches.

Despite its troubled start, Northern Iowa does hold a 26-24 advantage all-time against Iowa State. When the two teams met last season in Ames, the Cyclones prevailed 3-1.

“They were off to a rocky start, but [Cedar Falls] is always a very tough place to play,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Before you even get set they run a quick play back at you, so it’s going to be a very tough match. It wouldn’t matter if they were 0-3 or 3-0, it’s still going to be a tough match in a tough environment.”

For seniors Kristen Hahn and Tenisha Matlock, this will be their fourth and final time facing the rival Panthers, whom they are currently 2-1 against in their careers.

Given that this is their last chance to claim a win in this rivalry, Hahn and Matlock want to make sure the series is theirs once all is said and done, but Johnson-Lynch hopes they don’t get too hyped over the rivalry. She just wants them to take care of business as usual.

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Natalie Vondrak doesn’t think there will be a problem.

“I think they’re the type of players that give it their best each match so I don’t think there will be any difference,” Vondrak said. “I’m sure they’re just going to bring everything they’ve got.”

Last weekend, Hahn tallied 59 digs and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the week for the 13th time in her storied career. She is now tied for second all-time in Big 12 weekly awards won with former Texas star Destinee Hooker.

Wednesday’s match against Northern Iowa is set to begin at 7 p.m. in Cedar Falls.