ISU volleyball team takes shape as season approaches


Photo: Shane Tully/Iowa State Daily

Victoria Hurtt spikes the ball against the NC Tarheels on Nov. 30, 2012 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won 3 set to 2.

Dan Cole

With just a few days remaining until its first official competition of the season, the No. 15 ISU volleyball team is entering its final week of preseason training.

The young Cyclone squad, currently including just four upperclassmen, gave a glimpse of how things would go this season during the annual Cardinal and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday.

ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch is pleased with how her team performed but knows things need to improve heading into this weekend, especially in the areas of distribution, attacking decisions and reducing errors — which can be tough with such a young team.

“Once you go back and watch film you think, ‘Maybe I’m not quite so happy with how things went,’” Johnson-Lynch said in a news conference Monday. “Young players, it takes them a while to learn how to attack versus a big block. What to do in certain situations.”

At this stage of the year, the primary rotation of players is typically set, but the Cyclones likely will do some experimenting in the early season to see what works best given their wealth of young, inexperienced players.

Among the spots that are still up for grabs is the second outside hitter spot behind junior Victoria Hurtt. That competition now is between Morgan Kuhrt and Ciara Capezio, both of whom are freshmen eager to make a difference this season.

“They’re doing a nice job,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I feel good about whoever’s there.”

In terms of solidified spots, the Cyclones’ leaders have shown they’re ready for the season to start.

“Victoria Hurtt I think made a pretty good statement [on Saturday],” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s going to be one of our go-tos. She hit really well on the night and I thought got better as the night went on.

“Tenisha Matlock has had a terrific preseason and she showed that I think in the scrimmage, as well.”

Hurtt and Matlock are two of the team’s four upperclassmen, along with junior setter Taylor Goetz and two-time defending Big 12 Libero of the Year, Kristen Hahn. Both Hahn and Hurtt are returning All-Americans and both got the chance to participate in USA Volleyball programs during the summer.

“I feel like I’m a lot better starting out this year than I was last year,” Hurtt said. “Going to USA [Volleyball] was one of the main things, and just working all the way through the summer, not just toward the end. That really benefited me.”

The Cyclone volleyball season begins this weekend with three matches at the UND Classic.