Cyclones advance behind Straube’s career night

Zach Gourley

The ISU volleyball team swept University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday night in Hilton Coliseum to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The No. 14 Cyclones (23-5, 13-3 Big 12) were powered by a career night from Jamie Straube in which the junior middle blocker registered 15 kills on 23 attempts on the night with a .652 hitting percentage, a career high.

“Our passing was awesome. I can’t do anything unless they’re putting the ball up there,” Straube said. “I just had the mentality of swinging and it was working so I wanted to keep going and show my team that I’m not going down without a fight.”

Despite being swept, the Panthers (25-5, 16-0 Horizon) did not go down without a fight, as both the second and third sets were tied at 23-23 before the Cyclones pulled out wins each time.

Midway through the second set, with the Panthers leading 16-12 and looking as if they may pull away and tie the match, ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch called a timeout.

“At times I thought we were swinging at about 80 percent, just trying to keep the ball in play. I wanted to hammer in that we swing for kills,” Johnson-Lynch said of the timeout. “We don’t play a lot of teams that I feel can go toe to toe with us defensively and they did just that. We won the points we needed to at the end of games two and three.”

Freshman outside hitter Hannah Willms was, along with Straube, the only other Cyclone in double figures with 10 kills on 34 attempts. It was the first time all season that Willms led the team in total attempts.

“Sometimes on Carly (Jenson) and I they double block a lot, but because Jamie was on a roll, they put the double block on her, so there was an opportunity for us to keep getting the ball,” Willms said.

The Cyclones second round opponent will be a Miami (Fla.) team that knocked off Northern Illinois 3-1 earlier Friday in Ames.

“They’re a really good ball-handling team and they kind of all look like a bunch of beach players, they’re smaller but they jump well and they’re good athletes,” Johnson-Lynch said of the No. 25 Hurricanes. “They have a lot of shots. They don’t always hit the ball hard but they can do some crafty things with it and get kills.”

The Cyclones and Hurricanes will meet in the second round of the NCAA tournament at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.