UND Classic kicks off season for ISU volleyball


Photo:Huiying Yu/Iowa State Daily

Mackenzie Bigbee and Tenisha Matlock jump for a block during the game against Baylor on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Hilton Coliseum. Cyclones won the match 3-1.

Dan Cole

Last year, Iowa State’s volleyball team began its season by facing a nationally ranked opponent in five of its first six matches, going 3-3 to start the schedule.

This weekend, the No. 15 ranked Cyclones will kick off the 2013-14 season with three matches in Grand Forks, N.D., all against nonranked opponents. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy start to the year.

“I don’t know that a team has to be ranked to be a really good team to play and be a tough team,” said ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, whose Cyclones will face South Dakota State, North Dakota and Texas A&M this weekend. “We played North Dakota this spring, and we had a very tough time with them.”

The Cyclones are a combined 7-1 all-time against South Dakota State and North Dakota but have fared significantly worse against former Big 12 foe Texas A&M. The Aggies lead that series 24-11.

Following the Cyclones’ annual Cardinal and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, Johnson-Lynch mentioned she thought her players seemed to be a bit fatigued in the later sets of the scrimmage. With three matches in two days this weekend, staying fresh will be a concern for Iowa State.

“I think we really need to take our recovery seriously,” said ISU sophomore hitter Mackenzie Bigbee. “We have to be able to push ourselves through it. I think when we get tired, people stop talking, and we really just need to focus on talking the whole time, picking each other up. You have to pick your teammates up, and they’ll pick you up too.”

Johnson-Lynch and Bigbee both added that fatigue is often a mental issue more so than anything else.

The Cyclones have matches scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday — currently their only scheduled morning matches of the season (some match times are still TBA). The irregularity of the match times creates an unusual situation for Iowa State.

“It’s a little outside their comfort zone,” Johnson-Lynch said.

“I’m sure it’ll go OK,” said ISU junior hitter Victoria Hurtt. “Just getting in there and having a great warm-up will be the most important thing, and then just getting after it from the start.”

This weekend’s matches will get things rolling for the Cyclones before taking on Northern Iowa, San Diego and Illinois next week.

“If we were to come out 3-0 this weekend, I think that would be huge for us,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’re certainly capable of it, but we’re going to have to play good ball.”