Iowa State grabs important conference win, beats West Virginia 3-1


Wesley Winterink

Iowa State setter Jaden Newsome sets the ball for a teammate against No.1 Texas on Oct. 22. (Photo courtesy of Wesley Winterink/Iowa State Athletics)

Aaron Hickman

Iowa State was at Hilton Coliseum for the second week in a row to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in a very important conference matchup on Saturday.

Coming into the match, the Cyclones were fourth in the conference and the Mountaineers were fifth (Kansas State was third after already playing Wednesday and Thursday). Marija Popovic also made her return to the starting lineup after missing last weekend’s matches against Texas due to Big 12 health and safety protocols.

The Cyclones couldn’t get out of their own way early in the first set, with multiple attacking errors keeping them behind the Mountaineers. Down 10-6, Iowa State started to clean things up with a 4-0 run that forced a West Virginia timeout.

Out of the timeout, West Virginia did a good job of winning longer rallies and building momentum. Iowa State was outscored 5-2 and called a timeout down 15-12. The timeout proved to be beneficial for the Cyclones, as they went on a 4-1 run and tied things up at 16.

The Mountaineers responded by winning another long rally, and they would force another Iowa State timeout after going up 20-18. It was a good decision once again, as three errors by West Virginia and an Annie Hatch and Candelaria Herrera block assist put Iowa State up 22-21 and forced another Mountaineer timeout. A Popovic service ace, Herrera and Eleanor Holthaus block assist and Athena Ardila attacking error capped off a 5-0 run that won the first set 25-21 for the Cyclones.

Iowa State held the opposition to a measly .064 hitting percentage in the set while committing four less errors. Kenzie Mantz and Herrera led the Cyclones attack with three kills each, and Jaden Newsome contributed nine assists. Brooke Andersen put on a defensive clinic and tallied eight digs, while Popovic had five in her first set back.

Two kills by Alexis Engelbrecht were a part of the 4-0 run Iowa State started the second set with, forcing an early Mountaineers timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cyclones got a little out of sorts offensively and allowed West Virginia to tie the set up at six.

Iowa State’s blocking game began to step up, as block assists by the combinations of Engelbrecht and Jaden Newsome and Herrera and Newsome helped build a 12-8 lead. The Mountaineers responded immediately with a 4-0 run to tie the set up once again.

After some back and forth put West Virginia up 15-14, a kill and block assist by Holthaus helped a 4-0 run that put Iowa State up 18-14 and forced another timeout by the Mountaineers. The Cyclones would go on to win the set without much of a struggle by a score of 25-20.

Iowa State was stellar defensively again, only allowing a hitting percentage of .118 and keeping rallies alive with tough digs. The team was incredibly balanced defensively, as three different players had nine kills (Andersen, Petry and Popovic) by the end of the second set. Holthaus led the attack with five kills in the set, while Jaden Newsome had eight assists.

The Cyclones started out sloppy offensively in the third set, making bad passes and hitting kill opportunities into the net. They began playing much more efficiently, but still had a small deficit to dig themselves out of. Down 13-10, a 3-0 run tied the set back up and gave Iowa State some confidence.

It was a battle for several more points thereafter. Anytime it looked like one team might gain some momentum, the other had a response. The set went back and forth all the way to a 21-21 tie before West Virginia became the first team to score two points in a row for quite some time. They turned that into three in a row, grabbing a 24-21 lead and forcing an Iowa State timeout. The Mountaineers would go on to win the set 25-21.

A key factor in West Virginia claiming the set was its .292 hitting percentage, the highest of the day and much better than Iowa State’s .170 hitting percentage. It was also the first set that the Cyclones committed more errors than their opponent.

Holthaus led the attack with five kills in the set, and Newsome had 10 assists. Popovic tallied 11 digs, keeping several difficult balls alive.

Iowa State dominated the energy to start out the fourth set, with multiple errors by West Virginia and multiple blocks by the home team forcing a Mountaineers timeout with the score at 5-2. They would come out of the timeout with much better energy, battling back to tie the set up at seven.

The Cyclones would respond with a 6-1 run, taking a 13-8 lead and forcing another West Virginia timeout. Later on, with Iowa State up 14-10, the Mountaineers rattled off a quick 3-0 run tighten up the score. After a very long rally, Engelbrecht pounded a kill perfectly into the corner to end the run and try to steal some momentum back.

That wouldn’t be the case, as the Mountaineers responded with a 7-1 run to take a 20-16 lead and force an Iowa State timeout. Annie Hatch finally broke through with a kill, and the Cyclones put together a 4-0 run of their own to tie the set up at 20.

With the set knotted up at 23, a huge kill by Briana Lynch set up West Virginia for the set point. Herrera responded with a perfectly placed kill into the Mountaineers’ corner, and an error by the opponent set Iowa State up for the match point up 25-24. Newsome whipped out her signature move, faking the set and flipping the ball over the net where the defense wasn’t to win the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.

The Cyclones held their opponent to a .141 hitting percentage, and they also won the block battle 11 to six. Holthaus led the attack with 17 kills, and Newsome assisted on 40 points. Iowa State also had four players with double-digit digs, led by Popovic with 27.

Iowa State moves to 13-7 (5-4) on the season. They will be back at Hilton Coliseum for the second match against the Mountaineers at 1 p.m. on Sunday.