ISU volleyball continues to build rivalry with Nebraska in 3-match weekend


No. 10 junior outside hitter Victoria Hurtt fights to get the ball past a UNI player during Iowa State’s 3-2 win over the Panthers on Sept. 4 at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls. Hurtt had 17 kills on the night.

Dan Cole

Before the ISU volleyball team beat Nebraska in 2009, it hadn’t defeated the Cornhuskers in any of the previous 75 matchups between the two schools.

The Cyclones took down the then No. 1 ranked Huskers last season, as well, adding a second win to their side of the rivalry, improving their all-time series deficit to 80-2.

This weekend, the two teams — both ranked in the top-25 this season — will face off once again in Lincoln in the finale of a three-match tournament.

“It wasn’t much of a rivalry when we first got here, so it’s really great that we are now competitive with them and have beaten them at times,” said ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “I think we’re going to have to calm down for that match. We’re going to be pretty jacked up for that, and to play in that environment and that crowd.”

The Cyclones (4-2) will have two matches prior to the Nebraska (4-1) match to get their feet wet and work out some of the kinks that plagued them in their two losses at Hilton Coliseum last weekend.

Those two coming matches will be against Dayton and St. Mary’s, both of whom are unranked. While neither of those matches will be easy victories for the Cyclones, they will give the team a chance to figure some things out.

“The first game will allow us to view where our passing is going so far since the past two matches’ passing hasn’t been up to par,” said ISU senior Tenisha Matlock, a native of North Platte, Neb., whose family will be on hand for her return this weekend. “The first match will let us know where we’re at so far after this [week’s] practice.”

This week’s practice was focused largely on improving a passing game that was troublesome against San Diego and Illinois. Johnson-Lynch said her team will not be focusing much on preparing for any specific opponent, but rather on correcting the wrongs on its own side of the net first.

Others issues addressed in practice dealt more with the intangible aspects of the game that the Cyclones’ have possessed so abundantly in years past.

“Just playing with passion, playing with heart and just getting after it,” said ISU junior Victoria Hurtt. “I felt like that was one of the things that we didn’t do great [last weekend] and that’s what we normally do, is play with some heart and play hard.

“I feel like that will be the best thing we can do this weekend.”

Iowa State’s quest to further its rivalry with Nebraska will have to wait until 7 p.m. Saturday evening, after it plays Dayton at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and St. Mary’s at 4:30 p.m. Friday.