Offensive woes doom Iowa State against No. 2 Baylor

Senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera and sophomore outside hitter Annie Hatch prepare for the next point against Baylor on Oct. 23.

Sam Stuve

Baylor’s tall middle blockers and strong defense took control of Friday’s match and caused Iowa State volleyball to be inconsistent on offense.

Iowa State lost match one of its doubleheader against No. 2 Baylor 3-0, showing once again the offensive woes for the Cyclones.

“They had good [defensive] setups throughout the night, they played disciplined and they are big which made things difficult for us,” said Iowa State junior right side player Eleanor Holthaus.

In Friday’s match, Iowa State had eight more attacking attempts than Baylor did (108-100), but Iowa State didn’t convert on its offensive attempts as well as Baylor did.

The Cyclones had a .164 hitting percentage while the Bears had a .255 hitting percentage. Coming into Friday’s match, the Cyclones had been averaging a .223 hitting percentage, third-best out of nine in the Big 12.

One of the biggest differences between the Cyclones and the Bears on Friday was errors committed. The Bears committed 20 attacking errors and the Cyclones committed 29 attacking errors.

Iowa State lost Friday’s sets by 16 points combined and since errors directly lead points in volleyball, the number of errors committed by Iowa State directly led to its loss.

“I felt they (Baylor) were in-system a lot more than we were,” Iowa State Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. 

In volleyball, being in-system means that a team digs or receives the ball well enough so that the setter can pass it to any of her teammates, not just whoever happens to be closest.

Johnson-Lynch said that passing was an issue for her team on the offensive end.

“We had our passing struggles and then when that happens, you get a mediocre set and we ended up being kind of predictable,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We were hitting into their block too much and we just weren’t able to get kills.” 

Johnson-Lynch said the team’s offensive struggles started with the teams serving and passing.

The number of kills on Friday were about even, as the Cyclones hit 36 and the Bears hit 41.

The combined negative difference in the number of errors and kills scored accounts for 15 out of the 16 point differential (75-59) in Friday’s match. 

Holthaus and senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera were the only two Cyclones that managed to have a hitting percentage above .200.

Herrera led the Cyclones in hitting percentage at .353, while Holthaus had a .273 hitting percentage.

Hotlhaus led the Cyclones in kills with 11, which was also a game-high (tied with Baylor’s Yossiana Pressley). 

Part of the offense’s lack of production could be attributed to the Cyclones having one of its key pieces on the sidelines on Friday.

Redshirt junior middle blocker Avery Rhodes, wasn’t in uniform for the Cyclones on Friday.

Rhodes was wearing a walking boot because of an ankle or foot injury that she suffered during practice this week.

“She’s a great leader and has a lot of experience blocking and attacking different spots,” Herrera said. “She’s played against Baylor for many years so I think that’s a disadvantage we had.”

Rhodes is questionable heading into tomorrow’s rematch against Baylor. 

Stepping in for Rhodes was freshman middle blocker Alexis Engelbrecht, who made her first start of her career.

Engelbrecht had one kill and three total blocks.

Johnson-Lynch said Engelbrecht’s main priority was blocking and that she thought did a good job in that realm but that she (Johnson-Lynch) still needed to overlook the film to see.

Not having Rhodes on the court could negatively affect Iowa State.

In 2019, Rhodes earned a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team.

Rhodes is fifth on the team in points scored this season with 49.5 and third in individual hitting percentage at .249.

Holthaus has also been dealing with an injury.

Earlier in the month against Texas, she fractured her nose and has to wear a protective face shield during Friday’s match.

In Friday’s post match interviews, Holthaus said that the shield hasn’t affected her play but that it is annoying. 

Iowa State and Baylor face-off again on at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum and 1,400 fans are allowed to attend.