Cyclones ready for `scrappy’ Aggies

Emily Arthur

The ISU volleyball team has begun the hard part of its schedule.

Last Saturday, it met up with the No. 25 ranked Texas Longhorns, and lost in straight sets.

Wednesday night, they faced off with the No. 1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers and saw the same outcome.

This Sunday, things don’t get any easier as they host No. 16 Texas A&M.

Head coach Linda Crum said that although this may be a tough stretch for the Cyclones, the matches are no different than any other in the Big 12 Conference.

“I think every Big 12 match that we have helps us out,” she said. “I’ve been here two years, and I’ve learned that although the first round of Big 12 action produces some incredible competition, the second round is where I really see this team blossoming this season.”

Texas A&M comes into the match looking to improve on a 9-1 record with a 2-0 mark in conference play.

“They’re always a good team,” Crum said of the Aggies. “They’re a team that’s very strong in their ballhandling and their defense, and they’re very scrappy. The also have a good setter who moves around a lot and makes things happen for them on the floor.”

Crum said that although Texas A&M is “very comparable to Texas and Nebraska,” there is one difference.

“They may be a little bit more dynamic,” she said. “Texas and Nebraska are taller teams than they are, but A&M uses that to their advantage. They’re just a scrappy team.”

After dropping a match to Nebraska on Wednesday, the Cyclones stand at 3-5 overall with a 0-3 record in conference play.

Crum said the team did some things well Wednesday, but they were unable to stay with a good Nebraska team.

“We did get some of the things we wanted to accomplish going into the match done,” she said. “If we were sticking it to Nebraska early, we knew we had a chance to be competitive.”

Junior Mandi Harms led the Cyclones in the loss with nine kills and a season-high eight digs. Sophomore Renae Pruess added six kills and eight digs on the night.

“I thought Renae Preuss and Mandi [Harms] had strong nights, Mandi especially,” Crum said. “Nebraska goes up really high on the block, and she was really getting over their block. She was hitting consistently. It was great to see her relax and focus, and play how we see her play every day in practice.”

Crum said Harms was given the opportunity to play throughout the entire rotation instead of subbing out when she reached the back row like she’d been doing the majority of the season.

“We put Mandi all the way around,” she said. “We wanted to look at whether Mandi was a better player when she stayed in the game throughout the entire rotation or if she played better when she comes in and out. She really played well, and was able to get in a much better rhythm.”

The Cyclones and Aggies will take the floor at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Hilton Coliseum.

Crum said that although there’s been some rough points to the season so far, she’s especially happy with one aspect.

“What I’m happy about is that [the team] is really going after growth,” she said. “We’ve had some disappointment in matches, but the girls continue to want to improve and give everything they’ve got. What I’m proud of in regards to this team, is that they don’t want to give up. They’re staying aggressive, and wanting to win.”