Homecoming for Willms spoiled by Panthers


Photo: Jordan Maurice/Iowa State Daily

Hannah Willms, right, and Taylor Goetz high five after scoring a crucial point on Aug. 20 at Hilton Coliseum. 

Zach Gourley

CEDAR FALLS — The ISU volleyball team dropped its first match of the 2011 season Tuesday against No. 15 Northern Iowa at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls.

Christy Johnson-Lynch’s No. 12 Cyclone squad (9-1) was swept in straight sets, 26-24, 25-12 and 25-18.

The Panthers (7-1) gave their record crowd of 6,490 plenty of reasons to be loud as they led most of the match, aside from an early 5-0 Cyclone lead to start the match.

“It’s a terrific atmosphere. It is hard to come into this gym and play well. I especially felt like they put pressure on us with their serve,” Johnson-Lynch said. “When you’ve got thousands of people in purple behind that serve and it just can rattle you and it showed in our passing numbers.”

For ISU outside hitter Hannah Willms, a Waterloo native and Dike-New Hartford high school standout, the match was a homecoming of sorts.

The redshirt freshman led the Cyclones in kills with 10, but struggled at times with the Panthers’ double blocks.

“It’s nice being back home. It’s a lot different because last time I was here, I was watching Iowa State and UNI play,” Willms said. “It’s a very scary atmosphere seeing people you know and they’re all in purple, but it’s really nice to have the support.”

For much of the match, Willms and Co. were beat at their own game, as the usually defensively imposing Cyclones were outblocked, 13-4.

“They were pretty relentless defensively. We tend to frustrate teams with our defense. I thought we got rattled by their defense,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think it was partly because of that atmosphere and that pressure that you feel from that crowd.”

ISU setter Alison Landwehr, who tallied 23 assists on the night to go with nine digs, said the team’s 5-0 run to start the match was more indicative of who the team is.

“We started as ourselves and then we lost that as the match went on,” Landwehr said. “They really put the pressure on us with their serve and their attack.”

For the Cyclones, the road only gets tougher as they prepare to head to Lincoln, Neb., to face No. 10 Nebraska (6-1).

Johnson-Lynch said the loss to Northern Iowa should be a motivator as the team moves forward.

“I think you can come away from here and be more determined and I hope that’s what we do,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We played like crap, we have to move on and get ready for the next match. We have to be determined to serve and pass better to give ourselves a chance.”