Volleyball hopes to improve on road

Matt Gubbels

Through its first 17 matches of the season, the ISU volleyball team has played six of those, including two conference matches, on the opponent’s home floor.

The Cyclones (10-7, 2-4 Big 12) are only 1-5 in those matches and have the opportunity to improve that mark, as well as their conference standing, when they take on Baylor, 4-2 in the league, on Saturday.

Freshman outside hitter Rachel Hockaday said the team has learned its lesson from a recent lackluster five-set loss to the Missouri Tigers.

“Every team that we play is going to be a challenge, so we just have to know from that match that we have to come ready to play, home or away,” Hockaday said.

Two of those road losses came to ranked teams in Middle Tennessee State and Texas, as well as five-setters to Kansas and Missouri.

Baylor is receiving votes in the AVCA poll this week.

Coach Christy Johnson said the Missouri match seemed to just be an anomaly with how off the mark her team seemed to be that night.

“We have some veteran players that know how to play well on the road and have been through the grind,” Johnson said. “I know we will be much more prepared this time.”

Football game forces earlier start time

The Cyclones will take to the floor at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, for a 2 p.m. match, four hours earlier than their usual 6:30 p.m. start time. The early start is due to the Iowa State-Baylor football game taking place at nearby Floyd Casey Stadium.

Hockaday said playing earlier in the day reduces the time the players have to sit around thinking about the match.

“It kind of depends on the person — I like playing earlier,” Hockaday said.” “You just wake up, start practicing and start warming up and just get ready to go.”

The Cyclones have played six morning or afternoon matches already this season during their preseason, as well as a early start against Kansas, since the conference slate has opened.

Johnson said playing those early matches should help her team adjust to the early start time.

“Everything is shifted a few hours from what you are used to,” Johnson said. “It is a different feeling because you have to get the body going earlier in the day, which is a good and bad thing. It’s not going to be any different for Baylor.”

The early start time does allow the players and coaches to take in the ISU football game. Due to conflicting game times and sites, the volleyball team hasn’t been able to attend many games this year.

“Everyone is going, team and staff, and we’re really excited that it worked out like that,” Johnson said.

Cyclones among conference leaders

Through the first few weeks of conference play, multiple ISU players are at or near the top of statistical categories in the Big 12.

Ashley Mass retook the lead in digs per set last week at 5.08. Kaylee Manns is second in assists per set at 11.44 and Jen Malcom is second in blocks per set with 1.31. Malcom is fourth in the league in hitting percentage at 0.414 and Victoria Henson is averaging 3.85 kills per set, which also puts her fourth in the Big 12.