Attacking errors cost Iowa State in loss to Kansas

Iowa State’s Brooke Andersen serving a ball in a match.

Sam Stuve

Leading over the Kansas Jayhawks (3-8) 13-10 on Friday, the Iowa State Cyclones (2-9) had the momentum in the winner take all fifth set.

Iowa State needed to get to 15 points in the set and win the set by two points or more to win the set, which would lead to it winning the match three sets to two.

The Cyclones did reach 15 points, but when they got 15, it was to tie the set at 15.

Because of three kills by graduate transfer outside hitter Jenny Mosser and four Iowa State errors, Kansas won the fifth set 17-15 and the match 3-2.

“We kind of let them off the hook,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “We were in position to win that final set, but we made some unforced errors; they didn’t block us, we just hit it way out of bounds in both serving and attacking.”

Iowa State’s offense committing too many errors and Mosser dominating on the attack for Kansas prevented Iowa State from winning.

31 of Iowa State’s 43 offensive errors were on the attack, while 12 errors were made on serves.

Iowa State’s offense committed 12 more errors than Kansas did, which directly led to Kansas scoring 12 points.

In total, Iowa State’s minus 12 differential in errors made led to Kansas outscoring by ten points in the entire match.

Coming into Friday’s match, Johnson-Lynch said the game plan on offense was to aim shots high, to avoid having balls hit off of Kansas’ blockers and fall to the ground on Iowa State’s side.

Iowa State junior outside hitter Brooke Andersen said this had been a focal point in practice in recent weeks.

“We’ve been practicing hitting high hands, so shots don’t get blocked, sometimes we’re (their shots) just missing their (opponents) hands or were just trying to use the [other team’s] block, or hit it and were just missing,” Andersen said. “That’s just the risk-reward with that.”

Johnson-Lynch said there needs to be a balance of being aggressive on the attack while making good attack choices.

“You can’t tip the ball or serve lollipops over their team, so it’s a balance of being aggressive, being smart and knowing what you’re capable of,” Johnson-Lynch said.

The Cyclones had an inefficient hitting night as a whole but actually had a better hitting percentage than their season average.

The Cyclones had a .186 hitting percentage average for the season but hit .198 on Friday.

Despite the errors they committed on the attach, the Cyclones had 67 kills on Friday, which was 10 more than Kansas had.

Part of this was due to senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera hitting .359 en route to a career-high 20 kills.

“I started a little bit off with the tempo, but I’m glad I could come back,” Herrera said. “I had a good feeling (connection) with our setters.”

Herrera was Iowa State’s lone player to hit above .205 on Friday (minimum five attacks).

Johnson-Lynch said this was the best game she’s seen Herrera play.

Herrera set her previous career-high of 18 on Nov. 27, 2019, against these Kansas Jayhawks.

The Cyclones couldn’t keep Mosser in check, as she had a season-high 25 kills for the Jayhawks, three shy of her career-high that she set last season while playing for UCLA.

Johnson Lynch said, “she took over for them (Kansas), especially at the end.”

“She (Mosser) is a very experienced player and she showed that tonight,” Johnson-Lynch said. “

Herrera and Kansas’ back row played very well and the Cyclones will have to adjust defensively according to where Mosser hits the ball.

The second match of the series between Kansas and Iowa State begins tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.

Saturday’s match is the final home match of the season for the Cyclones.

Moving forward, Johnson-Lynch said eliminating offensive errors, especially at the end of sets, needs to happen.

“You have to play clean at the end of sets,” Johnson-Lynch said. “After point 20, after point 10 [in the fifth], it’s important that you don’t commit too many errors.”