Volleyball hope for strong play going into bye week

Matt Gubbels

The ISU volleyball team gets a well-deserved week off between its match Saturday against Oklahoma and its next match, against Baylor, on Oct. 11.

“It has been a long haul for us; this is the first time we have really had any time off,” coach Christy Johnson said. “It’s nice to be at home and then be able to take a full day off and rest and recover.”

This will be the first full week off for the Cyclones this season after a busy non-conference schedule and the first three weeks of conference play.

“I think we need the time off; we have been going, going, going,” setter Kaylee Manns said. “I think it will help our confidence, knowing that we have time off.”

Four of the next six matches after the bye Wednesday will be in the friendly confines of Hilton Coliseum, where Iowa State is 4-2 this season, with the losses coming from in-state rival Northern Iowa and No. 2 Nebraska.

Cyclones look to curb struggles in five-set matches

After a five-set loss to the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday, Iowa State is 0-3 in five set matches in 2008, after going 5-2 in matches that went the distance last season.

“Fifth [sets] can always go either way; momentum doesn’t seem to have that much to do with it,” Johnson said. “We just have to start making better decisions in critical situations.”

In the match against Missouri, as well as a five-set loss against UW-Milwaukee earlier in the season, the Cyclones came back from a 2-0 deficit to force deciding sets before losing.

Senior middle blocker Jen Malcom said the team has been able to make big comebacks but not finish them off.

“We need to pick it up in the first two games so we don’t have to go that fifth set,” Malcom said. “That’s a weakness of ours right now.”

In their other match that went the distance, Iowa State was the team to own the commanding 2-0 lead, but was unable to close the Kansas Jayhawks out.

Block leads comeback against Missouri

Iowa State did trail 2-0 to Missouri before forcing a fifth set and the key to forcing that fifth set was a block that slowed down the Tiger offense, which had looked strong early on.

“We were pretty bad in [sets] one and two,” Johnson said. “We had to do a lot of things better to get back in the game, and one of the things we did do better was starting to commit block.”

Middle blocker Diane Kieger and outside hitter Carly Jenson teamed up for three of the four Cyclone blocks in the third set, and outside hitter Victoria Henson added a solo stuff.

Malcom and Manns teamed for two in the fourth set as well, and, despite the fifth set loss, Kieger and Manns teamed up for one in that set also.

Manns said the Cyclones started blocking smarter later on in the match.

“In the first and second [sets], we were in the net all of the time,” Manns said. “We just weren’t playing as smart in general, and in the third game we started reading their hitters and knowing where they were going to hit and executing our gameplan more.”