Stuve: Herrera and Holthaus are Iowa State’s X factors in 2020

Iowa State volleyball versus Kansas on Oct. 2.

Sam Stuve

Two of the 13 players listed on the 2020 All-Big 12 Preseason Team are Iowa State players.

The two are senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera and junior right side player Eleanor Holthaus. Based off of their on-court production a season ago and with their mentions on the 2020 All-Big 12 Preseason Team, these two look like they will lead Iowa State in the 2020 season.

These two were both American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Midwest Region and All-Big 12 First Team members last season.

Both were not listed on the 2019 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, but after a successful 2019 season, the Big 12 has taken notice.

Holthaus led the Cyclones in points with 361.5, in kills with 308 and kills per set with 3.18. She finished sixth in the Big 12 in points and seventh in the Big 12 in kills per set.

She is one of eight (from the nine Big 12 schools) unanimous selections for the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

She led the Cyclones in double-digit kill matches last season with 16 out of the 27 matches she played.

Holthaus had been dealing with an ankle injury in late 2019 and in early 2020. According to Iowa State volleyball Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, Holthaus had surgery on her ankle in the spring and has fully recovered.

Herrera was second on the team with 307 points. 

She was tied for fifth in the Big 12 in hitting percentage (minimum 3.0 total attacks/set) at .314.

In addition to success at Iowa State, Herrera has had international success with her home country’s team, the Argentina National Volleyball Team.

Herrera helped lead Argentina to a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games, the first time Argentina won a medal in women’s volleyball at the Pan-Am Games.

On Jan. 10, Herrera and the Argentina National Team won the Confederation of South American Volleyball (CSV) Women’s Tokyo Volleyball Qualification Tournament and qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

It is only the second time the Argentina National Team has qualified for the Olympics.

Herrera and company will not have the chance to play in the Olympics this summer, as the COVID-19 virus canceled the Summer Olympics.

With successful seasons behind them, there are new challenges for Herrera and Holthaus heading into the 2020 season. 

“It’ll be another big year for them and they were both two of our go-to attackers last year,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We would hope that every year we could rely on them a little bit more, so maybe they get a little more sets their way and their blocking gets a little better and their defense gets a little bit better.” 

Johnson-Lynch said incremental growth needs to happen for them from year to year.

“The goal every year is to give them a little more, give them a little more responsibility, get them the ball a little more and rely on them a little more,” Johnson-Lynch said. “That’s how we get better.”

Johnson-Lynch said how they can “start challenging for championships those players that we know are good and teams are going to continue to key on” to continue to grow.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa State has not yet released its schedule for the 2020 season.

Iowa State is picked to finish third in the 2020 Big 12 preseason poll out of the nine teams in the Big 12.