Iowa State faces tough slate at Cy-Hawk Series Tournament


DJ Jacobi

The Iowa State volleyball team is seen dancing as they take down the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks on Aug. 28.

Aaron Hickman

The 4-1 Iowa State volleyball team will head to Coralville, Iowa, this weekend to participate in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series Tournament. After a 2-1 weekend at the Penn State Classic, with wins coming against LSU and Oregon State and a loss coming against Penn State, the Cyclones have an even tougher slate of games on deck.

Both the Ball State Cardinals and the Syracuse Orange come into the event with undefeated records of 7-0 and 6-0, respectively. Although neither team has faced a particularly difficult schedule, both of them have displayed dominance.

Ball State has a hitting percentage of .227, and they allow a hitting percentage of .168. Natalie Mitchem leads the Cardinals with 78 kills on a .330 hitting percentage, while Kate Vinson leads the team with 123 digs defensively.

Ball State has wins over both St. Thomas and Northern Iowa, who Iowa State will face in the following week. This will be the first matchup between the Cardinals and the Cyclones since 1987.

Despite facing off against a ranked Penn State squad last weekend, Syracuse has the potential to present the most problems of any team Iowa State has gone up against. Syracuse has only dropped two sets so far this season, with both of them coming in their very first match. They hit .327 as a team, while only giving up a hitting percentage of .096.

They are led on the attack by Marina Markova, who has tallied 90 kills on a tremendous .398 hitting percentage. Abby Casiano and Naomi Franco lead the Orange with 27 and 26 blocks. Polina Shemanova enters the weekend with 75 digs.

The Cyclones are 1-2 against the Orange under Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, with their last meeting coming in 2018.

Iowa enters the tournament still searching for their first win. They have hit to the tune of a .200 percentage, while giving up a hitting percentage of .300. They are led offensively by Courtney Buzzerio, who comes into the weekend with 74 kills. Defensively, the Hawkeyes have five players with at least 27 digs, led by Maddie Slagle with 46.

This will be the first Cy-Hawk matchup since 2019. The Cyclones are 12-2 against the Hawkeyes during Johnson-Lynch’s tenure.

Different from last weekend is the fact that Iowa State faces three teams with three very different styles. This poses a challenge on a weekend where there will be very quick turnarounds Friday and a rivalry game Saturday.

“We play three very good teams who are so different,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I thought the teams we played this past week were kind of similar, but these three teams are very different in how they do things. The challenge will be adjusting to each of those different scouting reports.”

Johnson-Lynch mentioned the team is still working on some things and that she will be interested to see if the squad can keep tweaking things and continuously improve.

Iowa State will start off with a doubleheader Friday, facing off against Ball State at 11 a.m. and Syracuse at 4 p.m. The Cy-Hawk matchup will follow at 4 p.m. Saturday.