Iowa State shows heart in hard-fought victory over TCU


Iowa State celebrates a point against TCU on Saturday in a five-set victory over the Horned Frogs.

Aaron Hickman

On a night where Iowa State went through many up and downs, there was one big takeaway from their play on the court.

The Cyclones looked out of sorts at times, got outplayed at others, and couldn’t get anything consistent going for a decent chunk of the match. In spite of this, the heart of the players shined the brightest in a hard-fought 3-2 (25-10, 22-25, 25-27, 25-22, 15-4) victory over TCU.

After dominating the first set 25-10 and winning their fourth set in a row overall against the Horned Frogs, Iowa State looked like they might coast to another straight-set victory. That wasn’t the case.

“When you beat a team 3-0, you don’t have as many adjustments to make,” Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said after the game. “You’re not really sure what’s going to come at you. TCU probably had a lot of things on their list that they could do better and change, while we probably had less in mind.”

The Horned Frogs began to execute those things in the second and third set, winning them both and stifling an Iowa State offense that had hit .458 in the first set. TCU was doing a better job of grinding out the tough sets, winning them both by close scores and even hitting as low as .133 in the second set. Iowa State needed a big momentum change to turn the tide.

That change came in the form of Jaden Newsome stepping up and figuring it out. Down 22-19 in the fourth set, an error by the Horned Frogs cut the deficit to two. Then a block assist by Newsome and Candelaria Herrera cut the deficit to one, forcing a TCU timeout.

A service ace by Brooke Andersen tied things up, then a tremendous solo block by Newsome sent Hilton into a frenzy and gave the Cyclones the lead. They would finish on a 6-0 run to claim the fourth set.

“I think it was really big,” Newsome said about her timely block. “I had to get my stuff in order, so it was good for the team.” Johnson-Lynch elaborated on how proud she was of Newsome’s play.

“They had been going after her as a blocker and she was struggling a little bit, and then she figured it out and dialed in,” she said. “It was a tremendous job from her changing her mindset. Sometimes you do that when the other team has been going after you and you just finally get it. It gets the rest of the team fired up and I think we saw that from our team.”

The come-from-behind victory completely changed Iowa State’s night, as they played the fifth set with a ferocity they had been missing for much of the match.

“Sometimes we’re just not doing what we’re supposed to, but we’re good at just hanging in there and coming back,” Herrera said. “For me it’s just thinking I want go out there and do the best I can and play together with my teammates.”

The fifth set was possibly the best of the season for Iowa State, as they ended the set on an 8-0 run to win it 15-4 and slam the door on the Horned Frogs. The chemistry of the team was on full display, and the passion for the game was blaringly obvious as they fed off of the Hilton crowd.

“Every team in the Big 12 is a good team and every team that we face is going to be tough,” Eleanor Holthaus said after yet another double-double performance. “Being able to persevere, battle through, and win the fifth set dominantly was really good for us moving forward.”

“Those kinds of matches help to build your confidence and they can be big turning points in the season,” Johnson-Lynch said.

It’s too soon to tell if that will be the case for the Cyclones, but for tonight they should feel pretty good about the heart of their squad.