Takeaways: Iowa State’s offense finds its footing

Iowa State senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera going for a kill in the match against Texas Tech on Oct. 3. Texas Tech beat Iowa State 3-1.

Sam Stuve

With the second weekend of the season completed, Iowa State volleyball has found itself with a 2-2 record.

Iowa State is tied for fourth in the Big 12 with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders, whom Iowa State beat 3-1 Friday, but lost to 3-2 Saturday.

In the second weekend of the season, junior right side player Eleanor Holthaus and junior outside hitter Brooke Andersen showed potential as the Cyclones one-two combo on the attack, junior setter Jenna Brandt adjusted to her starting role and Iowa State lost the second match of a doubleheader for the second time this season.

Andersen and Holthaus become one-two punch

Andersen and Holthaus have been Iowa State’s most productive players on the attack through the first four matches.

Holthaus leads Iowa State in points scored with 68.5 and in kills with 59, while Andersen is second on the team with 64.5 points and 53 kills.

“They get a lot of balls and they get a lot of sets,” Iowa State Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “They are two of our biggest point scorers and so their offense is incredibly important to us.”

Johnson-Lynch said offense is “incredibly important,” citing that usually the team that has the higher hitting percentage wins the match, although Saturday was an exception to that (Iowa State had a .245 hitting percentage and Texas Tech had a .212 hitting percentage).

In all four matches this season, either Andersen or Holthaus have at least tied for or had the most kills in a match.

Holthaus also leads the team in hitting percentage with a .383 percentage.

Andersen had a career high in kills Friday against Texas Tech with 16.

Holthaus hit a season high 19 kills in Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech.

In total, Andersen had 28 kills and Holthaus had 32 kills combined in both matches against Texas Tech.

Part of their success may be due to junior setter Jenna Brandt’s play.

Jenna Brandt adjusts to starting role

Brandt once again got the starting nod over 2019 All-Big 12 senior setter Piper Mauck this weekend.

In Friday’s matchup, Brandt had 46 assists, one shy of her career high.

She then set her career high Saturday with 51.

Brandt has been one of the most effective setters in the Big 12 this year.

Averaging 10.39 assists per set, Brandt ranks fourth in that statistical category.

“I think the best thing she does is run down balls,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s really quick, so she can run up, save and put up an out of system ball (a ball set far from the net) as good as anybody.”

Johnson-Lynch said Brandt is still figuring out timing issues with the team’s attackers.

“That’s important because we have really good middle [attackers],” Johnson-Lynch said.

Johnson-Lynch said Brandt has gotten a lot better at setting to the right side where Holthaus plays and Holthaus is hitting well off of her.

Doubleheader struggles

In both its doubleheaders against Texas Tech and Kansas State, Iowa State dropped the latter half of the two games.

One could say the quick turnaround could be the reason for those two Saturday losses, but Johnson-Lynch isn’t highlighting that as to the reason the Cyclones lost Saturday.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice,” Johnson-Lynch said.

The Cyclones beat Texas Tech 3-1 on Friday but lost 3-2 on Saturday.

“[Texas] Tech had more things to adjust than we did and just did not execute the things we needed to offensively as things went on,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Johnson-Lynch said having a quick turnaround wasn’t the reason for the team’s loss Saturday, but rather they didn’t generate enough offense (Iowa State and Texas Tech both had 67 kills).

Iowa State redshirt junior middle blocker Avery Rhodes said in regards to having a quick turnaround between matches, “I think that’s the hardest thing right now.”

“It’s really tough and we’re still trying to adjust to it, but I think we’re beginning to get a good feel for it now,” senior libero Izzy Enna said.

The Cyclones have played nine sets in those two matches, winning three and losing six.

Five out of those six set losses came by four points or less.

What’s next?

Iowa State (2-2) travels to Austin, Texas, to face the undefeated (4-0) Texas Longhorns on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m.

The Longhorn Network is streaming both matches.