Cyclones overcome hot and cold offense to beat Hawkeyes 3-2

Sophomore right side Eleanor Holthaus serves the ball Sept. 6 at the game against Penn State. Penn State won 3-0.

Jack Shover

In a polarizing offensive game for Iowa State, the Cyclones were able to pull through and beat in-state rival Iowa on the road in five sets.

Iowa State started the game with the best attack it has had all season, but quickly slumped in the third set as the offense faltered. The Hawkeyes forced a fifth set, but Iowa State had regained enough momentum to take the match.

“Sometimes one thing goes bad and then two and then you just start to feel like you can’t do anything right and that’s very typical in a match,” Christy Johnson-Lynch said.

Eleanor Holthaus, a sophomore outside hitter, said the team lost its aggressiveness in the third period, but the team avoided a flat start in the final set by bringing energy. Holthaus led the Cyclones in kills with 19 and had a hitting percentage of .395.

The Cyclones were on fire on the attack during the first set and hit .567 as a team, which propelled the Cyclones to a 25-18 over the Hawkeyes, who hit .333.

Eleanor Holthaus had a quick four kills in the set for the Cyclones and finished the set with seven and a hitting percentage of .667.

Holthaus was hitting shots all across the court and from the back and front row. Whether it was down the line or to soft spots of the defense in the middle of the Hawkeye defense, Holthaus was able to find holes throughout the first set and into the duration of the match.

No play displayed Holthaus’ impact on the game better than the sixth point won by the Cyclones in the second period. During the play, Holthaus came from the backrow to deliver a thundering kill attempt into Iowa’s backrow. Iowa mishandled the ball, which led to an overpass and easy kill for Candelaria Herrera and the Cyclones.

Outside of finding holes in the defense and creating opportunities for her teammates, Holthaus was able to power through the Hawkeye block for kills that were tipped or rolled down the block for quick points.

It wasn’t until the end of the third period the Hawkeyes even registered a block.

In the first set, Holthaus wasn’t the only Cyclone with an efficient stat line and middle blocker Avery Rhodes had a perfect hitting percentage — meaning all of her attack attempts resulted in kills — and five kills.

Against Iowa, Rhodes was a force along the net whether she stayed on the middle of the net or slid towards the right side of the net and provided setter Piper Mauck a second or third option on the attack.

“I knew I had to hit high cause they have some really good blockers that jump really high, so I know if you just keep swinging high you can hit hands that can send the ball in the opposite direction the team’s thinking,” Rhodes said.

After two efficient hitting sets, Iowa State’s attack fell into a funk in the third set and finished with a hitting percentage of .079 in the set after hitting .412 in the second set.

In the third set, the Cyclones more than doubled the amount of attacking errors they had with seven after only having a total of three beforehand. 

The Cyclones were constantly on their heels in the set as the Hawkeyes forced several overpasses on Iowa State, which allowed the Hawkeyes to quickly set up their attack. The Hawkeyes hit .323 during the set.

Johnson-Lynch said the Hawkeyes switched up their rotations in the third set and served tough, which were both a factor in Iowa State’s offense sputtering.

In the fourth set, Iowa State had a better offensive effort, but still only hit .132 and Iowa was able to win the set after Iowa won its last three points in the set from attacking errors by the Cyclones.

Annie Hatch and Avery Rhodes both hit the ball into the net in consecutive plays to give Iowa a 24-17. Iowa State won the next point, but Candelaria Herrera hit the ball directly into the net.

The Cyclones found their groove again in the fifth set and won 15-10 behind a .522 hitting percentage.

“I think we just kind of gathered ourselves in the fifth set and worked through it,” Holthaus said.