Takeaways: Cyclones hope to improve serves as conference play continues

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

Andrew Harrington

Iowa State volleyball split a pair of Big 12 matchups with Texas Tech Thursday and Friday, pushing the team’s record to 12-5 (4-2 in Big 12 play).

Any Big 12 win is difficult to come by because of the depth in the league this season. To add wins to their conference record, the Cyclones will have to put in a lot of work these next few weeks.

Trouble with the serve

Despite Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch focusing on the serve last week, it was still the weak point for Iowa State over the weekend.

The team recorded 12 service errors Thursday, causing major issues as they squeezed by in the fifth set. With just six aces, their serving was not meeting expectations as the Cyclones headed into the second matchup with the Red Raiders. 

Errors were not the problem with the Cyclones serve Friday; the team only committed three. Iowa State scored just one ace, allowing Texas Tech to continually take big swings on the return.

Balanced defense

The Iowa State defense showed the balance it’s been looking for, especially when it came to digs. Marija Popovic, Brooke Andersen, Eleanor Holthaus and Jaden Newsome finished in double digits for digs Thursday. The same four, plus Allie Petry, did the same Friday.

Having a variety of players that can defend the opponent’s swings will be vital for the team’s success.

The Cyclone block met expectations, with 17 blocks Thursday, followed by 12 Friday. Johnson-Lynch has placed an emphasis not only on blocks but deflections at the net to slow the opponent’s attack.  When the team is doing this, it sets up big swings for Iowa State.

Pivotal bye week

Iowa State has arrived at arguably the most important point of its season, with a week off before the final four weeks. With four weekends to play in the regular season, the Cyclones are battling for a position in the Big 12 and a spot in the NCAA Volleyball Championship tournament.

This week, the Cyclones prepare to face off against 11-0 Texas, ranked first in the nation in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Texas received all 64 first-place votes in the poll.

The teams will face off October 21 at 6:30 p.m. and October 22 at 7 p.m. in Ames.