Iowa State focuses on its mental game

Emily Arthur

With a little more than half the season completed, the ISU volleyball team continues to build towards the future while trying to finish the season strong.

The Cyclones host Oklahoma tonight in a battle of conference foes. Both teams are currently at the bottom of the conference standings. Iowa State’s record is 3-11 with a 0-9 record in the Big 12 Conference, while Oklahoma is 2-15 with a 1-6 conference record.

Head coach Linda Crum said the season has had a lot of ups and downs.

“Because we are kind of young and new, we’re starting to gel together as a team,” she said. “We’ve had some matches where we’ve really looked good, and we’ve had some matches where we’ve looked bad.”

The Cyclones have yet to win a match in the tough Big 12 Conference, but have played powers like Nebraska and Texas A&M tough.

Sophomore Steph Sunkten said the good competition the Cyclones face in the Big 12 has had a lot to do with the progress the team has made throughout the season.

“Every night you get a chance to play a top team in the country,” she said. “Sometimes it can be good to play teams that are at our level, but playing these great teams gives us something to aim for, and allows us to prove to ourselves that we can be competitive with them.”

Teammate Dana Koziol said the team takes something good from each matchup they have with Big 12 opponents.

“We’ve made progress by playing against good teams,” she said. “It’s fun. It gives us confidence to play them, to play good against them.”

Koziol said physically the Cyclones are right with every team they play, but they need to improve on their mental aspect of the game.

“We’re right there talent-wise,” she said. ” But we definitely don’t have the mentality that we need to compete with the better teams. That’s really an area we need to improve in.”

Sunkten agreed.

“We definitely need to improve our mental aspect,” she said. “Coach always tells us, `You guys can play physically with anyone.'”

Looking to tonight’s matchup, Crum said Oklahoma is a team much like the Cyclones. With no seniors on either squad, both teams are young and fairly inexperienced.

“I think it will look like any other match. I think the rallies may be longer, but it will also be a real competitive match,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of those long rallies end in an error by either team though.”

Oklahoma comes into the match leading the all-time series with Iowa State 35-11 including five straight wins over the Cyclones. Despite this, Crum isn’t worried about the Sooners, but more about her team.

“We’re young, and we still need to improve our skills,” she said. “Our challenge is to just play at the level we see everyday. We just want to continue to push through the schedule and try to take a match here and there.”