Mitchell provides silver lining for shorthanded Cyclones


DJ Jacobi

Addi Heidemann and Mariah Mitchell high-five teammates as they get ready for the game against the Omaha Mavericks on Aug. 28.

Aaron Hickman

Without key players in Eleanor Holthaus and Marija Popovic (both out due to Big 12 Health and Safety Protocols), Iowa State volleyball needed to find production from some unfamiliar faces on Sunday against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Freshmen Allie Petry and Brooke Stonestreet stepped up in the absence of Popovic, just like they did against Texas, but who would account for the missing Holthaus production was a big question mark.

Mariah Mitchell was the answer.

Coming into the match with only one kill so far this season, Mitchell entered the lineup in the second set and made the most of her opportunity, tallying 12 kills and two block assists.

“This was my first time stepping into this role, so having my team support me and Jaden getting good sets to me was really helpful,” Mitchell said.

After Texas and Baylor, who look like the clear-cut top two in the Big 12, the rest of the league is pretty wide open. Although the team suffered a 3-1 loss with plenty of adversity, the Cyclones may have found another talented hitter that they can add to the mix in this crucial stretch of the season.

“She hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities because she’s sitting behind Holthaus,” Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “It’s so fun when you see players get their chance and then they make the most of it.”

“She’s really a breath of fresh air kind of player because she’s so positive, she’s always smiling, she’s always bubbly and she’s always working hard. She’s just one of those athletes that you love to have in the gym. She’s been working hard all year and was just waiting for her chance, and she got it today.”

Mitchell’s performance not only helped in the absence of Holthaus, but it was a welcome sight for a team stuck in a stretch of inefficient offensive play. Iowa State only mustered a .138 hitting percentage in the second match after hitting slightly higher at .175 in Friday’s win.

This comes after low hitting percentages against Texas and Texas Tech, and it has caused Iowa State’s season hitting percentage to drop down to .221.

“I think our general theme over the last few weeks has been that we need to find more offense,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It’s a little bit of ball-handling, and we have to challenge our setters to get better looks for our hitters, then we have to challenge our hitters to hit more efficiently. I think we have it, we’ve just got to find it.”

The team found out what Mitchell is capable of on Sunday. Candelaria Herrera spoke for all of her teammates when she talked about how happy they were to see Mitchell make an impact.

“She showed up,” Herrera said of Mitchell’s performance.

The silver lining of missing important pieces like Holthaus and Popovic is that you can see what other players are made of. Petry and Stonestreet took their chance and ran with it against Texas, and it was Mitchell’s turn against West Virginia.