Harms leads team into action

Emily Arthur

When the ISU volleyball team takes the floor this weekend in the Amerihost Classic, junior Mandi Harms will be prepared.

Harms, along with fellow teammate Sara Stribe, spent the summer in Ames specifically training for the upcoming season, and now is reaping the rewards of her work.

“I feel like a more confident player just because I know I’m in shape, I know I’m stronger,” Harms said.

“Physically, I’m stronger at the net, and I’m able to take on my opponents better.”

Harms showed her new-found strength in the Cyclones’ first tournament of the year leading the team in kills in both matches and most importantly, leading the team to two season-opening wins.

Harms recorded 12 kills vs. Western Illinois and tallied 17 kills in a match vs. intrastate rival Drake.

Last season, Harms recorded 89 kills, 99 digs and 12 aces on the year.

Head coach Linda Crum said the improvements in Harms have been evident from the start of the season.

“She came in physically stronger. She’s a very lean body type, so her being able to get stronger, has made a huge difference in her game,” Crum said.

“…She looks stronger in all aspects of the game as well as being able to hit a lot harder.

Crum said that although Harms has improved her hitting, she’s seen the most improvement in a different aspect of the game.

“The biggest improvement I’ve seen from her is in terms of her ball control, dropping back for the pass,” Crum said.

“Defensively she’s improved in so many ways.”

With no seniors on this year’s team, Harms and Stribe have had to step up and take on a good share of the leadership role.

Crum said that while Stribe is a more vocal leader, Harms is quiet and leads by example.

“The way that Mandi provides leadership on our team is through what kind of things she’s capable of doing through her athleticism and volleyball ability,” Crum said.

“She’s the person on our team who can go up and have a major impact on block, and really get the crowd involved. When we play the better teams such as Nebraska, she really has the ability to leave people coming away saying `wow’.”

Harms is well aware of her quiet, reserved presence and said that it definitely works to her advantage.

“I really try to lead by my actions. When I do say something, I think it means a lot more, because I think they know that I actually do mean what I say,” Harms said.

Respect from teammates and coaches is something leaders try to earn, but Crum said that hasn’t been a problem for Harms.

“She’s soft-spoken, but I think her teammates respect her for that,” Crum said.

“She has a kind of quiet confidence that comes through even though she’s pretty quiet. You always know she’ll go out on the court and get the job done.”

When Harms takes the floor this weekend in Green Bay, Wisc., she’ll be hoping her confidence carries over to all her teammates.

Iowa State started the season out winning their own ISU Heritage Classic last weekend, and is looking to improve on their 2-0 record.

Harms and Stribe both turned in strong performances at the ISU Heritage Classic and were selected to the All-tournament team along side of teammate Steph Suntken.

Going into the Amerihost Classic, Iowa State is looking to continue on the winning road and bring home the title.

The Cyclones will meet up with Sam Houston State tonight at 5 and will turn around Saturday to play matches against Wisconsin-Green Bay and Morehead State.

The first match is scheduled for a noon start while the second will begin at 5:30 p.m.

The next home match for the Cyclones is Wednesday at 7 p.m. when Baylor comes to town.

The matchup will be the first Big 12 conference match for Iowa State this season.