Notebook: Johnson-Lynch looks to keep the Cyclones sharp and motivated


Iowa State volleyball head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch talks with the Cyclones during a timeout against TCU on Sept. 25.

Andrew Harrington

AMES — Iowa State has gotten off to the exact start to the conference season they had hoped for, taking a pair of wins against Texas Christian University (TCU) to open Big 12 Conference play.

The Cyclones are looking to stick to their strengths and remain confident in their abilities as conference play rolls on.

Staying sharp

During this week’s practices, the team is looking to just keep doing the things that they have been doing all season while making a few minor tweaks each week.

Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch especially focused on the team remaining at their best for every battle ahead.

“We are kind of in that phase of the season where it is about staying sharp,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Can we continue to keep those things sharp while getting better?”

Johnson-Lynch also mentioned that there is simply not enough time to give major focus to more than a few portions of the game, as the team only has a handful of days to practice between match-ups.

Importance of net defense

Iowa State recorded 16 blocks on Saturday against TCU, marking its highest total of the season. Not only did these blocks contributed to the defense, but they also made offense a little bit easier for the Cyclones.

Johnson-Lynch mentioned that even the blocks that do not result directly in points can have a positive impact on the rest of the play.

“Not just the stuff blocks that you see on the stat sheet, but the touches we get and just slowing down opponents helps our offense a lot,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Outside hitter Annie Hatch also acknowledged the importance of the block for the team, saying it boosts the team’s confidence during the set.

“Blocking makes a huge impact on the game, it really lets our defense defend better behind us even when we are getting good touches versus blocking it straight down,” Hatch said. “It gives us confidence that we can stop those hitters.”

Johnson-Lynch said that if the team is not blocking well, a lot of pressure is placed on the offense, making it harder to score.

Riding the momentum

The Cyclones came back from being down two sets to one on Saturday, which many of the players credited to perseverance. This win gave the team a lot of momentum leading up to a major challenge against Kansas.

Johnson-Lynch was very impressed with the team’s play at the end of the final two sets, saying it showed a lot about the team.

“I felt like that fourth set wasn’t looking too good for a while,” Johnson-Lynch said.  “I was just just so impressed and encouraged by our team’s ability to kind of hang in there and persevere and then come out in the fifth the way they did.”

The staff expects the team to remain as cool, calm and collected as they were against TCU when facing Kansas.

Iowa State faces against Kansas at 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday on the road.