Takeaways from Iowa State volleyball’s scrimmage

Members of team white in Iowa State’s scrimmage Saturday, socially distancing during a timeout. 

Sam Stuve

For the first time in a year, the Iowa State volleyball team held a match inside Hilton Coliseum. The Iowa State volleyball team played in the Cardinal and Gold scrimmage Saturday.

Two teams played in the scrimmage, eight players on the gray squad and eight players on the white squad.

The match was competitive and resulted in a 2-2 tie.

Iowa State was unofficially led in kills by junior outside hitter Brooke Andersen who had 16.

Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, volunteer assistant coach Joe Lynch and assistant coaches Jen Malcom and Fiona Fonoti coached both teams.

Johnson-Lynch gave an injury update on sophomore outside hitter Michal Schuler and spoke about how competitive the sets were, the team’s blocking and what it felt like playing without the fans’ energy.

Schuler is out “week to week”

Michal Schuler was in a walking boot during Saturday’s scrimmage. In a postmatch interview, Johnson-Lynch said Schuler has a sprained ankle and is week to week.

“I’m not quite sure of her status yet, she’s working hard at rehabbing and we’ll have to take week by week,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Schuler is one of many important pieces returning from last season’s squad.

Last season, Schuler scored 79.5 points and hit 48 kills, which was seventh best on the team.

She also had 279 digs last season, which was second best behind senior libero Izzy Enna, who had 343.

When Schuler is starting on the court, the Cyclones have been successful. In her 17 starts (out of 27 matches), Iowa State won 13 of those matches.

All four sets were competitive

In Saturday’s match team grey, who had Andersen, junior libero Taylor Baranski, sophomore setter Jenna Brandt, sophomore right side/outside hitter Kenzie Mantz, 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera, freshman middle blocker Alexis Engelbrecht, freshman defensive specialist Micah Hall and sophomore libero Jaiden Centeno, took the first two sets 25-23 and 26-24.

Team white, who had 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 junior right side player Eleanor Holthaus, sophomore outside hitter Annie Hatch, senior setter Piper Mauck, freshman libero Julia Capone, redshirt freshman middle blocker Abby Greiman, senior libero Izzy Enna and senior middle blocker Avery Rhodes, took set three 25-11 and set four 15-11.

“I felt like we made the teams even and tried to make it as competitive as we could,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think you saw a lot of good back and forth…it was good to have to see them under stress, play a tight game at the end, a couple of times one side was down and had to figure out a way to come back.”

“There’s a lot of good stuff you can take from that,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Three players reached double figures in kills — Andersen with 16, Rhodes with 15 and Holthaus with 11.

Johnson-Lynch optimistic on team’s blocking

Iowa State was not one of the better blocking teams in the Big 12 last season.

Iowa State finished tied for fifth out of nine in the Big 12 with 2.14 blocks per set.

Heading into the 2020 season, Johnson-Lynch is confident about the team’s blocking ability and thought they have done well blocking in recent weeks, including on Saturday.

“I think I’m most pleased with our blocking,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We are getting lots of touches, our hitting percentages today weren’t that good and a little bit of that is because of our blocking.”

“We are getting a lot of good touches and never quitting, I think I saw Candelaria [Herrera] and Avery [Rhodes] and all of our middles not giving up on balls,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Herrera led all players in blocks Saturday with seven, with Mantz closely behind with six.

Cyclones adjusting to playing without fans in attendance

Iowa State played Saturday’s scrimmage in front of no fans. This is something the team will have to get used to as home matches are closed to the public for the 2020 season.

Johnson-Lynch has previously said that without fans, the team has to generate more energy.

“I thought overall it was good today, we were a little streaky with it though,” Johnson-Lynch said. “When we struggled and lost a few points in a row, you could see them kind of get quiet and we didn’t have those fans to bring us back into it, so I think we kind of have to work on that.”

“We had decent energy, sometimes it’s just getting used to playing matches without fans in Hilton,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It takes a little bit to get used to even though you practice like that all the time, you’re used to relying on them, so it takes a little bit to get used to.”

Saturday’s scrimmage was the first time Iowa State has played in an open scrimmage since playing Wisconsin in the spring season.

Mauck said in a postmatch interview that Saturday was all about “being able to get out there and compete” and to “get prepared for the season.”

What’s next?

Iowa State begins the 2020 season with two road matches Sept. 25 and 26 in Manhattan, Kansas, against Kansas State.

Both matches start at 6:30 p.m.