ISU defense struggles in home-opener against San Diego


Photo: Grace Steenhagen/Iowa State Daily

Freshman outside hitter Ciara Capezio hits the ball from her outside position Friday, Sept. 6, against San Diego. The spike scored a point for the Cyclones, but Iowa State dropped its first match of the season, 3-1. 

Maddy Arnold

The previously undefeated ISU volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season to San Diego in its home opener Friday. The Cyclones’ trademark defense struggled against the Torero offense.

No. 11 Iowa State (4-1) lost to No. 14 San Diego 3-1 (25-17, 25-17, 30-28, 25-13) in the Iowa State Challenge on Friday night.

“[I’m] obviously really disappointed in that match. I don’t feel like I prepared us very well,” said ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “That offense was very, very fast. We felt like we were spinning. You know, we couldn’t keep up with it.”

The ISU defense had difficulties with San Diego’s offense throughout the night. The Cyclones had a season-low 40 digs against the Toreros.

The match against San Diego was the only match so far this season that Iowa State has had fewer digs than its opponent. The Toreros totaled 63 digs on Friday.

Senior libero Kristen Hahn’s production also dropped against San Diego. She averaged 6.2 digs per set before the match, but averaged only four against the Toreros.

“We weren’t quite sure what was going to come at us or how fast it was going to be,” Hahn said. “Christy [Johnson-Lynch] told us it was going to be pretty fast and I just don’t think we came out ready to dig balls tonight.”

Although Iowa State was able to force a fourth set after a 30-28 win in the third, it was unable sustain that momentum. The Cyclones’ attackers had eight kills in the final set, but committed nine attack errors.

“I think that’s when we started second guessing ourselves individually and just defensively as well,” said senior middle blocker Tenisha Matlock. “As the game went on, we just tended to look more so at the bench instead of coming together as a group, as a team, looking each other in the eye.”

Freshman outside hitter Ciara Capezio and sophomore middle blocker Tory Knuth led Iowa State offensively. Both Capezio and Knuth had 11 kills a piece during the match.

Johnson-Lynch said she hopes Iowa State can “learn and move on” from its struggles against San Diego before the match against No. 18 Illinois on Sunday.

“You feel a little bit rattled and a little bit rushed, and I think that’s on both sides, the defense and offense,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We want to come into Illinois knowing we are a great serving and passing team.

“If we do that and play defense we are really, really good.”