Takeaways: Offense excels for the Cyclones during their opening weekend

Eleanor Holthaus gets ready for a kill against then-No. 2 Baylor on Oct. 23. Holthaus finished with eight kills. 

Adarsh Tamma

The Iowa State volleyball squad finished their opening weekend of the spring season with a win and a loss Friday and Saturday, first defeating Saint Louis in three straight sets before falling to No. 24 Marquette by the same margin.

The Cyclones relied on their all-around game in both matches they played over the weekend, as multiple players had double-digit kills and assists over the two matches.

Dominant offensive play

Volleyball is a game of runs, with both sides trying to get into a rhythm early and score as many points as possible to build enough of a cushion that their opponents can’t catch up. In both matches over the weekend, these runs were key to either Iowa State or its opponent winning sets and ultimately the match.

In their first match against the Billikens on Friday, the Cyclones got off to a quick 6-0 start thanks to four kills from a trio of players in sophomore Kenzie Mantz and juniors Avery Rhodes and Eleanor Holthaus.

Mantz finished the match as the Cyclones’ leader in kills with 11, while Holthaus and Rhodes were close behind with nine and eight respectively.

The Cyclones started out comfortably over Saint Louis, taking the first set by a score of 25-16 and the second set by the same margin as Holthaus and Mantz continued to get big kills for the Cyclones.

Iowa State eventually closed out the third set and match by a score of 25-21, finishing the match with a 0.316 hitting percentage, compared to the Billikens’ hitting just 0.116.

The second match proved the idea of big runs to be key, but not in the Cyclones’ favor.

Instead, Marquette quickly built up an 8-2 lead in the opening set, as the Cyclones had multiple attacking errors in which the Golden Eagles capitalized on.

The Cyclones got back in the match however, tying things back up at nine apiece on kills by freshmen blockers Alexis Engelbrecht and Abby Greiman, as well as two aces served by junior libero Taylor Baranski.

Marquette kept answering back with big offensive runs, eventually closing out the first set 25-15. Sophomore Hannah Vanden Berg was the offensive leader for the Golden Eagles, finishing the match with 14 kills while junior setter Claire Mosher had 24 assists.

The Golden Eagles had more two- and three-point runs in the second set to close it out by a score of 25-19. The third set was much more balanced, as the Cyclones fought off two match points to even the score at 25 all.

Both sides traded points until Marquette’s offensive firepower once again broke through from two kills by junior Elizabeth Orf, before they eventually pulled away to win the set and match by a score of 29-27. The Golden Eagles were the big hitters in the match, averaging 0.357 compared to Iowa State’s 0.155.

Upperclassmen lead

Over the course of their opening weekend, the Cyclones had multiple juniors and seniors lead the team on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Senior Piper Mauck was also a key contributor. The Des Moines native was the team’s best setter against Saint Louis, finishing with 26 assists and two aces on the offensive end while also leading Iowa State in blocks on the defensive end with two. She also finished with a perfect hitting percentage against the Billikens.

Senior libero Izzy Enna had big serves for Iowa State, leading the team in aces along with Mauck and sophomore Annie Hatch with two each.

On defense, the Cyclone block was led by Rhodes and Greiman, who each had two against Saint Louis to deny the Billikens’ attack. Iowa State also had 30 digs compared to Saint Louis’ 22, with Holthaus leading the team with six.

Against Marquette, the Cyclones again had upperclassmen lead the team in the stats, as Holthaus had 11 of the team’s 33 kills against the Golden Eagles. Sophomore Hatch also had a strong match, recording big kills on two match points to keep Iowa State in the set before ultimately falling 27-29.

Mauck once again was the Cyclones’ leading setter, recording 23 assists against the Golden Eagles to set up the Iowa State attack. She also finished the match with 10 digs, along with Holthaus and Baranski, who had eight and six digs respectively.

Rhodes once again led the Cyclones’ front line, leading the team in blocks with four, while Mantz and Mauck had three and two respectively.

Iowa State will be back on the court March 10, when they will host Illinois State in the first of four straight home matches at Hilton Coliseum.