Notebook: Iowa State growing in confidence ahead of Cy-Hawk Series

Iowa State volleyball head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch talks with the Cyclones after their 3-1 victory over Drake on August 27.

Aaron Hickman

Following a 2-1 weekend at the Penn State Classic, the Iowa State volleyball program has a tough slate of games coming up at the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament.

After great performances by key players and a strong performance by Junior Kenzie Mantz, the Cyclones are looking to keep building at this weekend’s event.

All-Tournament Honors

After strong performances at the Penn State Classic, Senior Eleanor Holthaus received her second All-Tournament selection of the season, with Graduate student Jaden Newsome picking up her first.

Hitting at a .256 clip while also playing a big part in the Cyclones’ lockdown defense, Holthaus contributed her strong performance to the players around her.

“My teammates really set me up for that,” Holthaus said. “We worked together and worked hard and I was able to perform.”

Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch was also pleased with the effort Holthaus put in, citing her work on both sides of the ball.

“El was good defensively and offensively,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She had three consistently good matches. Every aspect of her game was at a very high level for all three opponents.

Newsome assisted on 91 of the team’s points, and is clearly getting more and more comfortable in the team’s offense.

“Just consistency and getting to know my hitters,” Newsome said. “I’m new and that takes time. Over time it’s getting better.”

Johnson-Lynch believes that Newsome is making steady improvement as the season progresses.

“Jaden is becoming a real nice setter,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s figuring out our offense and getting better every week.”

Mantz makes mark

After no playing time in the first two matches of the season, Mantz played a big role in Iowa State’s weekend. Mantz recorded seven kills against Louisiana State University (LSU) and Penn State and had nine against Oregon State.

After a superb end to the 2020 season where she recorded double-digit kills in four straight matches, including 17 against Wayne State, Mantz is looking in form for the Cyclones.

“I feel very excited getting to know my role on the team,” Mantz said. “Moving forward I just want to keep working hard to keep my spot.”

Mantz’s numbers are indicative of the approach Iowa State had the entire weekend.

“We served and passed pretty well, played great defense, and blocked well,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Our attackers took their turns having dominant matches.”

Cy-Hawk Series Tournament

This weekend the Cyclones are taking on two undefeated teams in Ball State and Syracuse, followed by a Cy-Hawk matchup that could include a Hawkeye squad hungry for their first win of the season.

Fans have their own way of handling the Cy-Hawk rivalry, as will be seen throughout the week. For the Iowa State volleyball program, however, the goal is simply picking up another win.

Despite hearing about the rivalry since transferring to Iowa State, Newsome was stoic about the matchup.

“We approach it like every game,” Newsome said. “We want to get a win no matter who it is.”

Being a junior who has experienced the rivalry, Mantz shared a similar sentiment.

“Play like every other game,” Mantz said. “Just focus on the players and do our best to scout them and then play our hearts out.”

For Johnson-Lynch, two tough teams in Ball State and Syracuse take precedence.

“We have two very difficult opponents before we even get to Iowa,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think our team is pretty good about respecting the opponent. Both teams are undefeated that we play Friday. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.”

Johnson-Lynch believes the team knows to stay focused for Friday’s games and to worry about Saturday when it comes.