VOLLEYBALL: Cyclones ink four recruits for 2009

Matt Gubbels

The ISU volleyball team signed what could be its highest-ranked recruiting class ever Tuesday, bringing in three top-100 recruits.

The Cyclones brought in one top-100 player last season and had the twenty-fifth best class in the nation, which was its highest ever. While the team rankings have not been released, Iowa State has two recruits in the top 25 in the nation, including its highest-ranked recruit ever. They also signed one other player in the top 75 in the country, along with a walk-on defensive specialist.

Coach Christy Johnson said this class brings a lot of experience, both in high school and in club volleyball.

“There are no players that are raw and might need a year or two to develop,” Johnson said. “They are all legit Big 12 athletes.”

No. 22 Jamie Straube, a middle blocker from Tecumseh, Neb., is the top-ranked Cyclone recruit in the program’s history and No. 24 Alison Landwehr, a setter from Chesterfield, Mo., is just behind her.

“Alison gives us more depth at the setter position; Kaylee [Manns] has only one more season with us, so we have to prepare someone to take over,” Johnson said. “[Straube] can take over matches just with her block.”

Straube is another player from Nebraska, the state Johnson is from, and may be the most college-ready player. Johnson likened her to former player Erin Boeve, who owns many of the ISU blocking records.

“It’s crazy how similar they are,” Johnson said. “She brings that presence that Boeve gave us, which is intimidation and blocking a lot of balls; she is not real limited in what she can do.”

Landwehr is an all-around setter with multiple talents like current setter Kaylee Manns and adds size at that position as well.

“She is an all-around good athlete and she’s learned how to become a very good attacker as a setter,” Johnson said. “She’s more offensive than Kaylee; she’s often played on teams with small hitters that can’t always put the ball away, so she would take it over herself.”

Hannah Johnson, a middle blocker from Ankeny, is a local product who has the ability to play multiple positions on the net and played club volleyball last year for ISU assistant coach Joe Lynch.

“She’s a little bit more of a utility player,” Johnson said. “She’s one of the best players in the state, so we had — absolutely had — to go get her; it was just a good fit both ways, and she knows us really well.”

Struggling against service errors

The Cyclones had 11 service errors in four sets — one of their highest totals all season — against Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Many of those came at key times in the match. Defensive specialist Caitlin Mahoney said at times the servers were just a little too aggressive.

“Sometimes, when you are extra aggressive, you end up making more errors,” Mahoney said. “One of our goals was to make their passers struggle.”

Iowa State had one of its best serving matches of the season at Colorado earlier in the season and will need that type of performance when the Buffaloes come to town Wednesday.

“We had some people miss that don’t normally miss,” Johnson said. “I just don’t think we executed well.”