Road wins necessary for Johnson-Lynch


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.

Cory Weaver

Winning on the road for any collegiate team is a necessity for overall success. But with the advantage playing at home offers, winning on the road is easier said than done.

During the past few years, the ISU volleyball team appears to be one that has fine-tuned that skill. Since 2009, the No. 19 Cyclones (7-4, 1-0 Big 12) are 21-7 in conference road contests and coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said she’s happy with how her team has played away from home.

“We pay a lot of attention to that, and we try to practice in the opponent’s gym the night before,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think we’ve been good on the road, and you have to be good on the road to win a Big 12 championship. So we’ll talk a lot about playing on the road and kind of being up against the wall a little bit and challenging the players with that.”

For the past three weeks, the Cyclones have had the luxury of sleeping in their own beds and playing six consecutive matches at home. Now, the team hits the road to take on Kansas (13-2, 1-0) on Wednesday in hopes of improving that conference road record.

Senior setter Alison Landwehr knows what it takes to beat teams in front of the opposing crowd. Having leadership to guide the underclassmen unfamiliar to the ambiance of a Big 12 road match makes a difference.

“You just have to focus a little harder. And this will be our first road game, so hopefully this will give us a little lead into where it will go,” Landwehr said.

Another threat the Jayhawks pose is middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc. Standing at 6-foot-2, the Calgary, Alberta, native leads the conference in both hitting percentage (.409) and kills (206).

The ISU blocking game has not produced the results Johnson-Lynch has been looking for so far, but middle blocker Tenisha Matlock said they will try and replicate her play in practice this week.

“Probably more focusing for us: We like to work on how they hit, and we’ll try and have one of our players come in and try and hit like they hit so we can block that,” Matlock said.

If the team can serve well, Matlock said it might be able to take Jarmoc out of her element and prevent her from going off.

“Serving tough. They’ve got to get out of system, and then she can’t hit the way she wants to hit,” Matlock said.

The Cyclones split a pair of matches with then-No. 19 Illinois in Champagne, Ill., earlier in the season. 

Landwehr said maintaining the same focus whether it is a home or away match is what has worked for them in the past, adding they will continue to take that approach this season.

“Making sure that during the week we are focusing on what types of hitters they have, what type of defense they play and just knowing that when we go into the match, we’ll be more prepared,” Landwehr said.

The Cyclones and Jayhawks face off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Lawrence, Kan. The match will take place at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.