Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones find offensive groove vs Sooners

Iowa State volleyball players celebrate after securing a point against No. 1 Texas on Oct. 21.

Aaron Hickman

After picking up a weekend sweep against the Oklahoma Sooners, the Cyclone volleyball team remains in third place in the Big 12.

With just four matches remaining — two against Kansas State and two against Baylor — the next two weeks will be critical in determining seeding for the conference tournament.

Iowa State’s offense, as well as the continued performance of key players, will be essential in that stretch. If the team can replicate what they put together against Oklahoma, they could find themselves in good standing as the regular season winds down.

Hatch reaches new heights

Without the production of Eleanor Holthaus, who was once again out due to Big 12 Health and Safety Protocols, Annie Hatch had career nights on both Friday and Saturday.

Accounting for nearly a third of Iowa State’s points over the weekend, Hatch tied her career-high with 18 kills Friday before putting up a career-best of 22 Saturday. She also played a big defensive role, collecting 14 digs in the first match and 16 in the second, along with eight total blocks.

The resurgence of Hatch following an injury has been a theme for a few weeks now, and any remaining questions about rust or health can be put to rest following her performance.

Offense gets going

In recent weeks, Iowa State desired a lot offensively. That was not the case against Oklahoma.

Hitting at a tremendous .373 clip on the weekend, the Cyclones had three players with double-digit kills Friday and four with at least eight kills Saturday.

With more time to prepare for the absence of Holthaus, it appears the team figured out an effective lineup and game plan. With Holthaus and Popovic likely returning to the lineup against Kansas State, the experience gained by players in their absence will serve the team well in the upcoming stretch.

Not a fluke

After stepping up in the second match against West Virginia last week, Mariah Mitchell recorded 12 kills in each match against the Sooners.

More importantly, she did it while hitting .373 for an offense that experienced a much-needed jumpstart.

Mitchell has been a great example of taking an unexpected opportunity and running with it. This past weekend shows that her performance against the Mountaineers was not just a fluke.

She may not start when Holthaus returns, but she hopes to be an important rotation player that can provide efficient offense for the Cyclones.