Crucial stretch continues as Cyclones return home against Kansas State


Wesley Winterink

Iowa State freshman Brooke Stonestreet serves against No.1 Texas on Oct. 22. (Photo courtesy of Wesley Winterink/Iowa State Athletics)

Aaron Hickman

After a much-needed sweep in the face of adversity last weekend, the weekly challenge of Big 12 volleyball poses another tough matchup to the third-place Cyclones.

Facing off against the Kansas State Wildcats (14-7, 5-5), who Iowa State is ahead of by two games, it is important to get a sweep at Hilton Coliseum before ending the regular season on the road against sixth-ranked Baylor.

“They have a lot of weapons offensively, so just being really good blockers and being able to defend and shut down some of their hitters will really help us,” Annie Hatch said.

One of those weapons is sophomore Aliyah Carter, who is from Dubuque, Iowa. She is second in the Big 12 with 340 kills, as well as second in the conference in overall points.

However, she does it on a fairly low .189 hitting percentage and has 908 attempts, which is roughly 350 more than anyone else on the team. She has also committed 168 errors. No one else for Iowa State has committed more than 90.

The Cyclones also have a more diverse array of weapons offensively. The Wildcats have three players on the team with at least 400 attempts, while Iowa State has five.

If you factor in Mariah Mitchell’s production over the past couple weeks and project it over a full season, you could say that the team has six.

Keeping the offense rolling will be a very important factor in determining the Cyclones’ success this weekend. After struggling for a few weeks, the team really found a groove against Oklahoma and is hoping to keep that going while adjusting to having key players back in the lineup.

“Just keeping things sharp,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “Figuring out how we’re going to use Pops and El again and working them back in. I think our offense was clicking, so can we continue to do that? We’re not looking for huge gains in anything, just to get a little bit better at several things.”

It’s the time of the season where they best begin to separate themselves from the pack. Iowa State is third in the conference behind top programs in Texas and Baylor, and they have a chance to prove just how good they are as the regular season winds down.

With only three games separating third from eighth, it will be a long fall if Iowa State struggles against Kansas State and Baylor.

“We’ve got to put it all out there and really give it our best shot so that we can win out the rest of these games,” Hatch said.

The first match takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Hilton Coliseum. After a day off, the second match takes place at 1 p.m. on Saturday.