Notebook: Volleyball sees production coming from veteran, new faces

Allie Petry getting ready to receive a serve in front of her teammates.

Aaron Hickman

Through two weeks of conference play, Iowa State volleyball sits at 11-4 overall and 3-1 in conference. The Cyclones are currently tied with Kansas for second in the Big 12 and their ability to make adjustments combined with the reliability of key players has helped the program to its early success.

Bouncing back

The Cyclones have shown an ability to bounce back this season and the past weekend against Kansas was another example. After winning the first set on Friday, Iowa State would go on to lose the next three and the match. The team came back the next day with a determination to play the way they know they can.

“After losing on Friday we went after it on Saturday,” senior Eleanor Holthaus said. “We made the adjustments that we needed to, our serve and pass game really picked up.”

Freshman Allie Petry also attributed Saturday’s result to the better serving and passing, as well as the team’s chemistry.

“We weren’t playing as six individuals on the court,” Petry said. “We were all one.”

Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch noted how the better serving and passing really opened up the rest of the offense on Saturday.

“I think it started by serving a lot tougher Friday than we did on Saturday,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Our outsides played really well on Saturday, and their numbers were terrific. We were passing better and we were able to be a little bit more balanced offensively. It was a team effort and the result of many things.”

Iowa State had three players with double-digit kills on Saturday, just as they did on Friday, but they did it on a much higher hitting percentage and a significant dip in errors. The tougher serving allowed the Cyclones to receive better balls back, which made it easier to set up kill situations for the hitters.

Johnson-Lynch added that it will be key for the team to play that way on day one of matches, instead of waiting until the second day to make adjustments.

Holthaus’ growth shows on and off the court

When watching an Iowa State volleyball match, Eleanor Holthaus can often be seen laughing, cheering and encouraging her teammates. She has not only provided great play on the court, but her leadership is something that has proven to be huge for the Cyclones.

“She’s really grown into her leadership and become an elite player for us,” Johnson-Lynch said.

But leadership isn’t the only place she’s grown.

“She’s become more consistent on the court as well,” Johnson-Lynch added. “She’s taken her game to another level. Her serving is terrific, as well as her passing and defense. As she’s gotten older she’s really figured out how to get kills every single night, not just when she’s feeling it. She’s figured out how to be productive offensively no matter who we play.”

Holthaus attributes this success to her teammates.

“Jaden [Newsome] always puts me in a position to get kills, defensively our block does a really good job and makes my job easy back there being able to set up and go after balls,” Holthaus said. “Lately, I’ve been really engaged and focused and trying to do whatever I can to help our team win.”

That focus has resulted in three straight double-doubles for Holthaus and she is averaging a career best 3.23 kills per set. She has also taken on more responsibility defensively, as she is averaging a career high 2.75 digs per set and is second on the team with 146.

Petry providing solid play

Freshman Allie Petry has been a big part of Iowa State’s success so far this year. She may not be very flashy or make a ton of highlight reels, but her ability to get the job done so early in her career has been an important aspect of this season.

“She’s played very well,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s playing well defensively, she’s passing well and she’s serving very tough. You never quite know how a freshman will adjust, and she’s really adjusted to the college game quickly. She’s calm, she’s athletic, she’s smooth out there and she’s doing a really nice job in all facets of the game.”

Petry credits her teammates with helping her get comfortable.

“The girls have helped me a lot,” Petry said. “Being a freshman anywhere isn’t easy. I think the seniors have really helped me be confident in myself on the court.”

The freshman is one of five Cyclones with at least 100 digs this season, and she has a receiving percentage of .946 with over 200 receptions. She also has five service aces, and Johnson-Lynch has noted her ability to serve tough has resulted in the team using her serve more often over the past few games.

All successful teams have glue players that may not blow you away or steal the show, but they provide a steady presence and do what needs to be done to help the team win. It is a good sign for the future that freshman Allie Petry is one of them.