Iowa State to take on Drake in home-opener


Jacob Rice

Freshman Maya Duckworth serving against Missouri in an exhibition match Aug. 19.

After multiple weekends on the road, Iowa State will return to Hilton Coliseum for its home-opener against Drake on Wednesday. While the home environment favors the Cyclones, Drake will shape up to be another challenging opponent.

The match kicks off Iowa State’s non-conference home stand for the season. The Cardinal and Gold Challenge will include home matches against Drake, Iowa and Wright State. Although it may be tempting to skip over the Bulldogs to focus on the Cy-Hawk matchup, Drake is a dangerous team to overlook.

“We can’t be thinking Iowa right now; we gotta be thinking Drake,” said head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

The Bulldogs hold a 5-1 record heading into the match, with its only loss coming in five sets against Air Force on the road.

Drake will push an Iowa State team that has struggled to consistently shut down high-octane offenses. The Bulldogs run a fast-tempo offense, averaging 13.2 kills per set and a .219 hitting percentage on the season.

Drake’s defense will also be an obstacle, matching the Cyclones with 2.6 blocks per set and surpassing them with 15 digs per set. If Drake can get rolling on offense, a potential deficit will be a tall hurdle for Iowa State to clear.

“They’re good,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Their outsides are really efficient, and they run a very fast-tempo offense. They’re as good a Drake team as I’ve seen.”

Although the Cyclones will have to fight Drake’s offensive momentum, playing inside Hilton Coliseum may help accomplish that task. It will be the first time Iowa State has played in front of a home crowd since the preseason exhibition match against Missouri on Aug. 19.

For the younger players, it will be their first time competing in a true home environment. For the veterans, it will be a breath of fresh air to return after a pair of weekends on the road.

“It’s been a long couple of weeks here on the road…preseason, I’m so ready to be back [at Hilton],” said senior Eleanor Holthaus.

She will be looking to have another standout performance in front of the home crowd following her career-high 25-kill match against Troy.

“I’ve played in a lot of different arenas, but the fans here, the community, the atmosphere is like no other,” Holthaus said.

Iowa State will take on Drake at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.