Takeaways: Iowa State shares wins with Kansas State in first doubleheader

Right side hitter Eleanor Holthaus jumps to hit the ball toward Kansas State during the game Oct. 26, 2018, at Hilton Coliseum. Holthaus led Iowa State in kills during the 2019 season opener with 12.

Megan Teske

The Cyclones had their first two matches of the season when they played the Kansas State Wildcats on the road in a doubleheader Friday and Saturday. 

Iowa State went 1-1, winning Friday night in a 3-2 match victory and losing Saturday 3-1, which means the Cyclones are now .500 on the season as well as in the Big 12 Conference.

Kansas State came to compete 

Last year, the Cyclones went 2-0 against the Wildcats, winning their matches 3-0 both times they played them.

This was not the case this year. 

Kansas State didn’t let its inexperience show as it fought its way out of a 2-0 set deficit Friday night and pushed the match to five sets, eventually losing on a kill and attacking error in the fifth set. 

Saturday was a different case.

The Wildcats came out firing Saturday night and went up early with a 2-0 set advantage, pushing the Cyclones to fight for the set win in the third.

Kansas State started the fourth set up 7-2. Iowa State fought back, and it was a back and forth set until it was all tied up late in the set at 22.

The Wildcats got a match point from a kill by freshman outside hitter Aliyah Carter, and a block by freshman middle blocker Kadye Fernholz sealed the set win 25-23 and match win 3-1 for Kansas State.

Whether this fiercer competition from Kansas State was because there were no nonconference games and therefore no scouting reports for a newer team will remain to be seen until there are more matches in the book. 

Hitting woes

Throughout the two nights and nine sets, Iowa State couldn’t seem to get its hitting down.

Overall, the Cyclones struggled both nights, with a .214 hitting percentage Friday night and .223 percentage Saturday night.

Friday night, junior right side hitter Eleanor Holthaus led the team with a .316 hitting percentage and 17 kills, and she had 10 kills Saturday as well. 

On Saturday, junior setter Jenna Brandt led the charge in hitting percentage with a .636, but it was junior outside hitter Brooke Andersen and sophomore outside hitter Annie Hatch who led in kills with 12. Hatch was second on the team in hitting percentage Saturday with a .273.

On the other side of the net, Kansas State had a .267 hitting percentage Friday night and recorded a .236 hitting percentage the next night.

Iowa State also struggled with the attack overall, not being able to place the ball where it wanted and accounting for errors.

The Cyclones recorded 20 attacking errors Friday night and 24 more attacking errors Saturday night, something you would not expect to see from an experienced team such as this one.

Inconsistent energy

Multiple times throughout both nights, the energy was down from Iowa State. 

When the Cyclones would be down during a set or the team wasn’t doing so well, the energy would drop and it would be harder for Iowa State to get going again with the spirit gone.

Once a big kill or nice block happened, the team would get excited again until the Wildcats would return something back or go on a run, and there’d be a lull again.

With COVID-19 and Iowa State not allowing fans to be in attendance at home matches this season, the Cyclones will have to work on keeping their energy up and consistent throughout the five matches so as not to give their opponents a chance to take a strong lead.

This will be especially crucial in away games where some schools may allow fans to enter, so the Cyclones will have to keep their energy up while also facing the energy of the opposing fans as well.

Up next

Iowa State will return home to play Texas Tech on Friday and Saturday in another doubleheader for its home opener. Friday’s match will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be available to watch on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, and Saturday’s time will be announced in the coming days.