VOLLEYBALL: Cyclones hang with No.4 Texas, can’t get over the top

Matt Gubbels

For the second time this season the ISU volleyball team was able to stay right with fourth-ranked Texas but was unable to get over the top.

The Cyclones (16-10, 8-7 Big 12) dropped their second 3-0 (29-27, 28-26, 25-17) decision to the Longhorns (19-3, 12-2) this season Saturday in front of crowd of 4,026, but took them to extra points in two of the three sets for the second time as well.

“We would have a mistake here or there and then we would kind of let up,” senior middle blocker Jen Malcom said. “We just needed our to play our game and make that move and get over the top.”

Coach Christy Johnson said the match once again showed that her team can hang with the top teams in the nation for good portions of matches.

“We were right there point-for-point in games one and two and I felt we ran out of steam in game three,” Johnson said. “Physically and with skill level, we are right there with the best teams in the country; it is just a matter of sustaining it over a long period of time.”

Victoria Henson was in double figures for the 12th straight match with 14 kills and joined in double figures by Malcom, who hit .500 on the night, with 10. Setter Kaylee Manns had 41 assists and libero Ashley Mass became the quickest Cyclone player ever to 1,000 digs with her 15 against Texas.

Texas outhit .330 to .171, partially thanks to a 12-8 advantage in blocks with its tall front line featuring four players at 6-foot-3 or taller. The Cyclones did outdig the Longhorns 51-42, but Texas’s ability to continue to pick up sideouts during the match, many coming off of Destinee Hooker’s 13 kills, was the difference.

“Like we said, she is in her prime time of high jumping; she was not jumping that high down (in Austin),” Malcom said. “It is hard to stop somebody like that, when you are that tall and have that long of arms.”

Texas came out of the gate fast, taking an 8-1 lead, but Iowa State went on an 8-1 run of its own to knot set one at nine. The Cyclones tied the set at 17 off of two straight points before the two teams traded points until the Longhorns were able to take advantage of a service error with an Ashley Engle kill to end the opener.

Hooker had four kills in the set including two late that brought key sideouts and allowed Texas to keep its lead.

“She was looking at two blockers every single time and we put our biggest block on her,” Johnson said. “When you have somebody like that, you have to serve really tough, you have to play great defense behind it, and when you get the chance to swing for a point, you have to keep the ball in play and I felt we were a little shy of that tonight.

Iowa State took its first lead of the match at 6-5 of the second set took a 16-11 lead after a 9-4 run. The Cyclones still lead 20-17 before three straight Longhorn points knotted the set. The two teams traded points until kills from Hooker and Juliann Faucette sent Texas into intermission up 2-0.

While the first two sets featured 27 ties and two lead changes, set three was much different. The set was tied at 14 but Texas finished the match on a 11-5 run to keep its share of the Big 12 lead.

Iowa State goes on the road to Texas A&M on Wednesday before its second conference bye next Saturday.