Takeaways: Room to grow as Iowa State enters conference play


Abby Greiman (No.16) awaits the serve in Iowa State volleyball’s season opener vs. the Drake Bulldogs on August 27.

Aaron Hickman

Iowa State wrapped up non-conference play at the Diet Coke Classic this weekend, going 1-1 with a 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-15) win over St. Thomas and a 0-3 (25-17, 25-19, 25-20) loss at the hands of 11th ranked Minnesota.

The Cyclones will enter Big 12 play with an 8-3 record. Going into the weekend there are some things to be happy about for Iowa State, but also some things that will need to be cleaned up to compete with tough conference opponents.

Impressive showing from defense

So far this season the Cyclones have showed that even when their offense isn’t performing well, their defense can keep them afloat. That remained the case at the Diet Coke Classic.

Iowa State is hitting .254 as a team so far this season, while only allowing a hitting percentage of .186. This has created a winning formula that was on full display against University of St. Thomas. The Cyclones had a hitting percentage of .322, and the St. Thomas offense was only able to hit at a .109 clip. The Cyclones also had five more blocks and 16 more digs than their opponent.

The Golden Gophers are hitting .240 as a team so far this season. The Iowa State defense did a good job holding them below their season average at a hitting percentage of .206.

The Cyclones nearly matched Minnesota’s numbers for both blocks and digs, which is where you want to be when facing a highly ranked program.

Offense struggling against ranked opponents

Much like they did against then 17th ranked Penn State University, the Iowa State offense struggled against Minnesota. The Cyclones committed 21 errors and had a hitting percentage of .071. The Golden Gophers are only allowing an impressive percentage of .173 so far this season, and Iowa State was nowhere near that number.

Both Penn State and Minnesota were the better teams, but with the amount of talent the Cyclones have they can easily turn those figures around in conference play. Iowa State will need to avoid offensive performances like that against top programs like Texas and Baylor if they want to hang with the best in the Big 12.

Conference play begins

A fresh slate begins on Friday at Hilton Coliseum, as Iowa State begins Big 12 play at home against TCU. They enter conference play tied for fifth based on overall record, but all that matters is the 0-0 in conference play.

The Horned Frogs will enter the weekend with an overall record of 6-4. The matches will provide a good gauge for how the Cyclones line up in the conference. The first match will take place Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., with the second match scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.