Coaching change brings Hockaday to Iowa State

Matt Gubbels

Geoff Carlston’s resignation as the volleyball coach at Ohio University was a blessing in disguise for the ISU volleyball program.

Carlston moved on to Ohio State, and Rachel Hockaday, who had already signed at Ohio, moved on to Iowa State.

The Cyclones inked Hockaday as the fifth and final member of their recruiting class, and she has no hard feelings about the switch.

“I came and visited and loved the girls and I loved the coaches,” Hockaday said. “They were a winning program in the Big 12 Conference — I loved everything about the school.”

Two of Iowa State’s biggest contributors over the past couple years, former Cyclone Lauren Cummings and current Cyclone Jen Malcom, transferred to Iowa State. Head coach Christy Johnson said although the additions were all situations that were somewhat unexpected, all their transfers have played a big role in the team’s success.

“We have been real fortunate with those kind of situations, none of them we were really looking for, they just fell in our laps,” Johnson said. “I do feel really lucky that way and we also seem to attract that kind of player that wants to come to a program where they are going to work really hard.”

“They’re going to develop to best they can be and we might have a niche for those kind of players,” she said.

Hockaday was a top-150 selection by after her all-state performances as both a senior and a junior, leading her team to a third-place finish in the state in 2007. Hockaday then played for the Illini Elite Volleyball Club, which Johnson said prepared her to play college volleyball.

“Just watching her play, I knew she would be ready to go but I didn’t know she would be this ready to go,” Johnson said.

Hockaday has come in and started as the right side hitter for the Cyclones in all four matches this season. The right side hitter position was a place where Iowa State needed someone to replace Lauren Cummings, who played a prominent role at the position for the previous two years.

“It will be a challenge, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to come here,” Hockaday said.

Hockaday is third on the team in kills with 40 through three matches, including 12 in a sweep of Mississippi on August 30.

“She is a great offensive player,” Johnson said. “She is also one of those rare players that can play all six rotations.”

Hockaday has also contributed big defensive numbers to the Cyclones, while rarely leaving the floor. Hockaday is fourth on the team in digs with 37 and third on the team in total blocks with 13, along with the second-highest serve reception percentage on the team behind libero Ashley Mass. She also has three aces with her jump serve, including one in a big Cyclone run during a 3-1 win over Creighton on Tuesday.

Johnson said Hockaday’s defense fills an even bigger role for Iowa State this season.

“She passes and plays defense so well and her ability to contribute that way for us this year is huge for our team,” Johnson said. “I’m really glad she changed her mind and decided to come to Iowa State. We’re asking a lot of her for her first year and she has handled it really well.”