VOLLEYBALL: ‘09 season ‘set’ to begin

enior Diane Kieger, takes a swing during the Cardinal vs. Gold Volleyball scrimmage on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at Hilton Coliseum. The middle blocker finished with a .264 attacking percentage last year in the Cyclones 22-13 season. Kieger and the Cyclones kick off the season Friday night at Hilton Coliseum against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. File photo: Karuna Ang/Iowa State Daily

enior Diane Kieger, takes a swing during the Cardinal vs. Gold Volleyball scrimmage on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at Hilton Coliseum. The middle blocker finished with a .264 attacking percentage last year in the Cyclones 22-13 season. Kieger and the Cyclones kick off the season Friday night at Hilton Coliseum against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. File photo: Karuna Ang/Iowa State Daily

Kayci Woodley

Iowa State volleyball will start the 2009 season in a non-traditional way, against a non-traditional team. The Cyclones match up with Wisconsin-Milwaukee in their home opener on Friday at Hilton Coliseum.

Traditionally, Iowa State has started the season off with a three-team tournament. After the attempt to host a tournament in Ames fell through, the Cyclones play UWM back-to-back on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.

Unlike some of the thunderous offensive teams in the Big 12, Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a hard team to predict. Rather than concentrating on a stellar offense, the Panthers rely on defense, making it difficult for opponents to create an offensive attack.

Last season, the Cyclones suffered a five-set loss to the Panthers after hitting a dull .172 to start the match. The Panthers managed a .256 attacking percentage in set one.

“We’re used to a power offense like most teams have in the Big 12, but this team is totally opposite,” said senior setter Kaylee Manns. “They are not real powerful, but they are crafty and really scrappy.”

Part of the Panthers’ hitting success against Iowa State last season came from Becky Peters, who led her team with 21 kills. Since Peters graduated last year, UWM will be without one of its key prospects at the net.

Junior middle blocker Maddie Sueppel was also a major factor for the Panthers in last year’s matchup. With an unpredictable offensive mindset, the Cyclones hope to be aware of the attacks Sueppel could throw at them.

“I think [Sueppel] is a very smart middle blocker and attacker,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “She throws the ball around, she’ll hit shots, she’ll hit it to the corner.”

Sueppel and junior Natalie Schmitting combined for 252 blocks last season in the Panthers’ 23-9 year. Along with the defensive effort coming from Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s blocking game, the Panthers are just as tough in the back court.

“They pick up everything, balls you think would be down they’re there,” Manns said.

After fighting back from a 2-0 deficit in 2008, the Cyclones had a chance to take the win but were overcome in the fifth set. This season, the Cyclones are ready for the fickle team, and will use their deep bench of height and experience to mix things up against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in their first game of the year.