Volleyball to face slumping Lady Raiders

Matt Gubbels

With a match at No. 14 Kansas State looming on Saturday, the ISU volleyball team will attempt to avoid a letdown Wednesday against struggling Texas Tech.

The Cyclones (12-8, 6-4 Big 12), who are playing their first home match in 12 days, are trying to get their second half off to a good start against the Lady Raiders (7-13, 1-10), who have lost 10 matches in a row.

Coach Christy Johnson said there are no easy teams in the Big 12, as was evident when Iowa State defeated Texas Tech in four games on Sept. 29.

“It was a hard-fought four, so I expect the same when they come here,” Johnson said. “Although they don’t have the best conference record, I still think they are a good team.”

Junior middle blocker Jen Malcom is glad the Cyclones have already played once this season against each of their last 10 opponents.

“It will be good to go look back at the tape when we played them and figure what we need to do to stop the things that we didn’t stop before,” Malcom said.

Texas Tech is ranked in the bottom three of the Big 12 in every statistical category, but has shown flashes of strong play throughout the season, including a five-game win over Colorado. The Lady Raiders also swept Arizona State early in the season, and Arizona State went on to beat the Cyclones in five games.

The Cyclones have not played since a 3-2 victory at Colorado on Oct. 17, but sophomore setter Kaylee Manns said it was important to have some rest before this match.

“It’s nice going in Wednesday, knowing we had the weekend off and we’re fresh,” Manns said. “Tech is a good team, but it’s nice playing someone you have already beaten.”

Setter Emily Ziegler brings an unusual dimension to the Lady Raiders’ offense; she is not only a great setter, but a great hitter as well. She averages eleven attempts per match and is eighth in the Big 12 Conference in hitting percentage at .356, while still ranking ninth in assists at 10.67 per game.

Junior outside hitter Mary Bisenius said the Cyclones will have to key on Ziegler as a key hitter.

“Especially with me being an outside, she is one of my main priorities,” Bisenius said. “If she isn’t very active then I can key on the other hitters, but if she is active, then I have to focus on her before I focus on the middle.”

Texas Tech has had problems both offensively and defensively, allowing a .281 hitting percentage in Big 12 matches, while only hitting .136. Iowa State is hitting .222, while only allowing a third-best .188.

Bisenius said a win will give Iowa State confidence for its stretch run.

“It will really give us a step in the right direction,” Bisenius said. “Getting this confidence right away would really help us toward the end of the season.”