Spring volleyball wraps up at UNI


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State middle blocker Alexis Englebrecht stands ready against No.1 Texas on Oct. 21.

Aaron Hickman

With the spring schedule coming to a close, Iowa State volleyball has one final tournament on Saturday to work more towards the growth and development that has been seen over the past few weeks.

Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch believes the team has grown defensively and on the block, but still has plenty of room for improvement in all areas.

As far as players that have stuck out to the program’s long-time leader during the spring, there are two individuals who take the cake.

“Solei [Thomas] and Mariah [Mitchell] have really stuck out”, Johnson-Lynch said. “They didn’t get a ton of playing time last year, and they’ve both gotten a lot better this spring. At times they’re the most dominant player in the gym, so it’s been cool to see them get better and see their confidence grow.”

Johnson-Lynch also acknowledged how important it’s been for all of the potential liberos to get playing time this spring and show why they deserve to replace Marija Popovic, last year’s Big 12 Libero of the Year.

It’s no secret that the Cyclones will also have the tall task of replacing the production of Candelaria Herrera, who was often the engine of the team. It may be a big ask to replace everything the Argentian native brought to the team, but a by-committee approach to replacing Herrera may prove fruitful.

With Alexis Engelbrecht being the only middle-blocker who saw significant playing time during this past fall season, she figures to be the first in line to replace some of that production.

Contributing 76 kills and 61 blocks in 2021, Engelbrecht said she’s been working to replace a percentage of Herrera’s production.

She also feels some responsibility to help ensure that the middle-blocker group is reaching its potential. However, she aims to do this more with her play than her words.

“Obviously this spot is not given to anyone,” Engelbrecht said. “It’s a free-for-all and you have to work for it. But I’m kind of just leading in how I play in practice and how much effort I give rather than feeling like ‘oh, I deserve this spot because I’ve played before’.”

Junior Jordan Hopp is also in the thick of that middle-blocker competition. Only playing in one set so far in her career, she is still very comfortable with Iowa State and the system.

Practicing hard and working on her blocking and movement in particular, Hopp has been staying prepared to potentially have her number called in the fall.

“I’m always ready for whatever Christy or the coaches wanna throw at me,” Hopp said. “Wherever they need to put me I’m ready.”

Iowa State will face North Dakota State at 10 a.m., Iowa at 11:15 a.m. and UNI at 1 pm at the UNI Wellness/Recreation Center on Saturday in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Admission is free.