Cyclone defense key against Sooners


Photo: Zhenru Zhang/Iowa State Daily

Kelsey Petersen and Jamie Straube attempt to block the spike from an Oklahoma player during the match Saturday, Oct. 8 at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State beat the Sooners 3-1.

Zach Gourley

The ISU volleyball team moved to the top of the Big 12 standings with a 3-1 victory (25-23, 25-17, 22-25, 25-19) against No. 22 Oklahoma at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday.

The No. 16 Cyclones (14-3, 5-1 Big 12) held the Sooners (17-4, 4-1) to .157 hitting on the night, well below their season average of .259.

“It definitely wasn’t our best match and definitely not very pretty. We just outlasted them,” said ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “We did a good job of knowing what they were going to do, so we held them to a pretty good percentage.”

Outside hitter Tara Dunn led the OU offense with 15 kills on the night, but needed 58 attempts to do so and also committed nine attack errors.

In a match where Oklahoma out-dug the Cyclones 74-73, Johnson-Lynch said the teams’ defenses are comparable when it comes to their approach.

“They play great defense. Kind of like us, they get you into these battles where the ball is going back and forth and it’s not always pretty, but the ball is up,” Johnson-Lynch said. “That can be frustrating if you take three or four good swings and you can’t get a kill.”

While the dig statistics for both teams were close, the Cyclones’ swing blocking set them apart Saturday.

For much of the season, the Cyclones’ blocking has been an area of concern, as they averaged just 1.94 blocks per set, which ranks eighth out of nine teams in the Big 12.

On Saturday, the Cyclones registered 10.5 blocks to the Sooners’ four. ISU middle blocker Tenisha Matlock led the way with two solo blocks and four block assists.

“I just was trying to focus on getting my hands low and over and getting them out,” Matlock said. “It’s hard for me to do quick stuff. I was just focusing on getting them over.”

The 3-1 loss was the Sooners’ first Big 12 defeat of the season and puts the Cyclones in the conference driver’s seat.

“Coach said after the game that the Big 12 is wide open. It’s us, Texas and Oklahoma,” said ISU middle blocker Jamie Straube. “To get these home wins is huge because out on the road every game is 10 times harder.”

The Cyclones will now have a week to prepare for their next match against Baylor at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.