Lineup switch made before matches with Texas and Nebraska

Matt Gubbels

The ISU volleyball team chose to make possibly its biggest lineup switch of the season before matches with No. 3 Texas and No. 2 Nebraska.

The Cyclones moved freshman Rachel Hockaday from right side hitter to left side hitter and put in Kelsey Petersen, who had played only sparingly in two matches before that, on the right side.

“It’s a big change from right and left side — even though they are both outside hitters, they are two totally different positions,” Hockaday said. “It’s kind of tough to get back into the swing of left side.”

After two tight losses, coach Christy Johnson said the results of the matches have shown the switch has been working.

“It puts another freshman out on the court, which is a little scary, but Kelsey has played really well,” Johnson said. “She puts up a big block on the right side and that is why we wanted her out there.”

Petersen had seven kills, hit .250 and had two block assists in her first collegiate start against the Longhorns; and she followed that up with nine kills on .273 hitting against Nebraska.

“We felt we really needed a bigger presence on the right side, especially going up against Destinee Hooker or Jordan Larson,” Johnson said. “I felt really comfortable with it at Texas — we had been working on it for weeks but weren’t ready to try it.”

Senior outside hitter Mary Bisenius had been playing on the left side but has moved into the back row and had 11 digs in the two matches.

Senior middle blocker Jen Malcom said the previous lineup was working but this one gives the team a different look.

“We can always go back to the other one and be fine too,” Malcom said. “It shows a lot that [Petersen] is not scared and can come in and perform for us.”

The Cyclones hit .223 combined in the two matches against the first- and third-ranked teams in the conference in opponent’s hitting percentage, including hitting .272 against Texas, which is 100 points over its season average.

“There weren’t really any communication issues,” Johnson said. “Once we made the change, they just took it and went with it.”

The switch and the players involved will be tested this week by tough defenses from Missouri and Oklahoma, which are first and third in the Big 12, respectively, in digs and in the top half of the conference in blocking.

Mass named Big 12 defensive player of the week

Libero Ashley Mass was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for the second time this season and the fourth time of her career.

Mass averaged 5.86 digs per set during the week, which was the best of any player in the Big 12. Mass also had three service aces and was perfect on 38 serve receive attempts against two teams that lead the league in kills and hitting percentage in conference action.

Mass had a season-high 27 digs against Nebraska on Saturday after she had 14 against Texas on Wednesday.