Difficult schedule awaits the Cyclones

Matt Gubbels

If the ISU volleyball team wanted to ease into Big 12 Conference play, they won’t have the chance.

The Cyclones (8-3) face off with four of the five teams ranked ahead of them in the preseason Big 12 poll, including nationally-ranked No. 2 Nebraska and No. 3 Texas next week.

Junior setter Kaylee Manns cq said these first few matches will show how far the team has come in their first 11 matches.

“We’ll play those teams late in the season and we’ll see how far we have progressed,” Manns said. “Those teams were ranked ahead of us and this will give us a chance to prove and say these teams shouldn’t be ranked ahead of us and we are better than the sixth-place ranking.”

Iowa State opens the home portion of their Big 12 schedule for the second season in a row against the Aggies, who are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Cyclones’ first round NCAA Tournament opponent a year ago, San Diego.

“I think its important that we don’t worry about how the schedule works out,” coach Christy Johnson cq said. “We have to go one match at a time, that is why Wednesday-Saturday is good. After Wednesday, you can focus on Saturday.”

Freshman get first taste of Big 12

Iowa State’s much-heralded recruiting class, after playing its first home matches last week, will get its first chance to experience the tough Big 12 Conference this week.

Senior middle blocker Jen Malcomcq said the new players did a good job of adapting to the game and the Cyclones opponents during the non-conference schedule.

“I think they will be able to adjust to (the Big 12) real fast,” Malcom said. “Considering the groove they have been going in, they have the opportunity to have a strong showing.”

Freshman right side hitter Rachel Hockadaycq is third on the team in kills and leads in service aces.

“Hockaday is taking a huge load for us and she is doing so much for us as a freshman and doing it very well; I’m thrilled with how she is playing,” Johnson said. “The other freshman are getting spot time and I really like what each of them are able to bring because they are very different.”

Mass named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week

Sophomore Ashley Masscq was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after averaging 5.92 digs per set in 13 sets last week.

This is the third time Mass has earned the honor and Johnson said Mass has continued to be consistent, despite a switch from middle back defense to left back defense.

“She is not a hot and cold player, she doesn’t have swings, she is just consistent,” Johnson said. “You know what you are going to get from her everyday and that is a really important quality to have in a libero.”’

Mass has a 37-match long streak dating back to her first start at libero against LSU last season on September 7. She set a school-record for a three-set match with 24 digs against Drake on Saturday.