Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State completes comeback over Troy


Jacob Rice

Senior Eleanor Holthaus rises for a kill attempt against Missouri in an August 2022 exhibition match.

Iowa State volleyball rebounded to win its final match of the Tiger Challenge Saturday with a five-set win over Troy.

The Cyclones had lost three consecutive matches, including the first two of the Tiger Challenge against No. 21 Penn State and LSU.

Iowa State improved to 2-4 behind a 25-kill effort from senior Eleanor Holthaus and earned its second win of the season on Saturday. The performance from Holthaus earned the Cyclone veteran a new career high.

“This is that type of group,” Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said prior to Friday and Saturday’s Tiger Challenge. “I feel like they have a really nice camaraderie. They don’t implode, they don’t get frustrated, they just keep fighting.”

The Cyclones were behind two sets and won three consecutive sets to earn the win.

Comeback culture

Iowa State has shown in the 2022 season it can rally against early deficits. In the first two sets of Iowa State’s match with Troy, the Cyclones made valiant comeback efforts but fell short.

Troy mounted an 11-5 lead in the first set and forced Johnson-Lynch to take a timeout. Again, in the second set, Iowa State needed a timeout after Troy grabbed a 7-2 lead.

In the first, the Cyclones quickly responded and forced Troy to take a timeout after rallying to make the score 16-14. But Troy maintained the lead and took the first set 25-21.

In the second, Iowa State forced Troy to take a timeout with the score 24-22. The Trojans, after a kill from Amiah Butler, spoiled the Iowa State comeback effort and secured the win 25-23.

Iowa State came back from deficits in key sets during Iowa State’s first win of the season a week ago against Wyoming. The Cyclones battled again for a comeback effort against Wichita State at the Rumble in the Rockies but once again fell short.

Three consecutive sets

While playing behind two sets, Iowa State responded with a convincing win in the third set. The Cyclones jumped out to a 4-0 lead due to four errors made by the Trojans.

The Cyclones maintained a strong lead, winning the set 25-11 after a kill by Holthaus. The Cyclone senior secured the set point and her sixth kill of the third set.

With the win in the third set, Iowa State secured the momentum it needed to overtake Troy and find its second victory of the season.

Holthaus continued her dominance in the fourth and fifth sets. She added nine kills in the final two sets and reached her 25-kill milestone with a hitting percentage of .377.

Freshman Kiersten Schmitt added 10 kills to the Iowa State offensive attack. Starting setting Jaden Newsome and Mariah Mitchell added seven kills apiece. Newsome led the Cyclones with 41 assists.

Cyclones earn offensive edge

For the first time in the 2022 season, Iowa State gained a win while being more efficient offensively than its competition. On Saturday, the Cyclones posted a hitting percentage of .294 with 56 kills. The Trojans posted a hitting percentage of .132.

Iowa State posted a lower hitting percentage than Wyoming during the Cyclone’s first win of 2022. During Friday night’s loss in straight sets to LSU, the Cyclone hitting percentage was .046.

Defensively, Iowa State added fewer digs to the box score while facing Troy. Iowa State has been out-digged in each of its six matches in 2022.

Iowa State will begin its first home stand Wednesday when the team takes on in-state rival Drake. The Cyclones will have matches in Ames against Iowa and Wright State on Friday and Saturday.