Cyclones going back to blocking fundamentals

Zach Gourley

The ISU volleyball team is coming off back-to-back road losses last week, both of which were three-set sweeps at the hands of the No. 14 Northern Iowa and No. 10 Nebraska.

In the wake of the disappointing performances by the No. 16 Cyclones (9-2), one particular stat popped out at ISU coach Christy Johnson-Lynch as her team prepares to open Big 12 play.

Between last Tuesday’s in-state showdown with the Northern Iowa and last Saturday’s match with the Cornhuskers, the Cyclones have out-blocked 26-5.

“We got exposed and I think we have to find ways to increase our blocking numbers. I’ve just been really disappointed in those numbers,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’ve watched a lot of tape, and we really feel like we’ve got to get back to some fundamental blocking.”

This season, the Cyclones have switched their team blocking technique from a standard block, in which the blockers keep their arms up at all time, to what is called a “swing block.”

A swing block requires a blocker to keep their arms at their sides and their shoulders facing the direction in which they are moving.

When the player begins their block jump, they will swing their arms up in order to square their bodies.

“We made the move because I felt like the last couple years I would almost describe our blocking as stagnant. It wasn’t as dynamic as I thought it could be,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I felt that with the athletes we have now, it would be a good move for us because we were a very good blocking team in the spring, and the swing block was really helping us.”

Cyclone middle blocker Tenisha Matlock is not only new to using the swing block, she is also still adjusting to her permanent position as a middle blocker.

“It’s suppose to make you jump higher and use all your momentum to get up, but I don’t know; I’m still trying to adjust to it,” Matlock said. “I’d say for us to get more blocks, we really need to go with our instincts instead of think. [Assistant coach] Trudy Vande Berg says you hurt the team when you think, because if you think about it too much you mess up everything.”

The Cyclones are preparing for their Big 12 opener this Wednesday in Ames at Hilton Coliseum as they face the Missouri Tigers at 7 p.m.