Takeaways: Cyclones working through hitting struggles



Christy Johnson-Lynch talks with the Cyclones during a timeout against West Virginia on Oct. 30. (Photo credit: Luke Lu/Photo courtesy of Iowa State Athletics)

Andrew Harrington

Splitting a pair of matches with West Virginia over the weekend left Iowa State volleyball with a lot to reflect and improve upon before a weekend matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners. Between improving the hitting performances and returning some players, the coming week will be vital for the team’s season.

Hitting struggles

Entering the weekend with an overall .231 hitting percentage, good enough for fourth in the Big 12, offense had not been an issue for Iowa State this season. This was not the case against West Virginia, finishing with a .175 team hitting percentage on Saturday and .138 on Sunday.

There was not just one aspect of the game that was failing for Iowa State, but head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch was displeased with the hitting performances. She expressed this displeasure both after Saturday and Sunday’s matches.

Missing key players

For the second week in a row, the Cyclones were dealing with the absence of Marija Popovic, and on Sunday the team was also without Eleanor Holthaus. Big 12 Health and Safety Protocols have had a big impact on the team over the last two weeks, but it has also allowed the coaches to see what a few players can do.

Perhaps the biggest of these standouts was senior right side Mariah Mitchell. During the match on Sunday, Mitchell finished second on the team in kills with 12, just one off of the team lead. Johnson-Lynch had high praise for the way that Mitchell performed and is looking to find a lineup that gels together.

“She has really not had a whole lot of opportunities, she is sitting behind Holthaus,” Johnson-Lynch said of Mitchell. “It’s so fun when you see players get their chance, and then they just make the most of it and I thought she made the most of it.”

Tight conference race

The Big 12 conference is extremely contested this season, with five of the nine teams holding either a 5-5 or 4-6 record in conference play. Iowa State is currently in a tie for third in the conference at 5-5.

With matchups against 5-5 Kansas State and 4-6 Oklahoma as two of the team’s final three pairings, it will be crucial for the Cyclones to claim some wins to push ahead of the pack.

Johnson-Lynch talked about just how important it will be for Iowa State to come away with some wins, especially when on the road against Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s critical and we knew that. The whole Big 12 has felt critical, every night is critical,” Johnson-Lynch said. “You have got to try to get some upsets when you can against teams that are ahead of you in the race, you have got to battle on the road.”