Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State knocks off Drake in its home-opener


Maeley Rosengren

Cyclones shake hands with Drake after match in Hilton Coliseum on Sept 7.

Iowa State shut down Drake in a hard-fought match Wednesday night. With the home-court advantage on their side, the Cyclones knocked off a tough opponent to start the Cardinal and Gold Challenge. 

Iowa State handed Drake its second loss of the season. The offense clicked at the right time and the defense shut down the Bulldogs’ high-tempo scoring unit. With two more home matches coming up, Iowa State will look to maintain its energy. 

Offense was flowing

In the first set, the Cyclones jumped out to an early 5-4 lead and never looked back. While senior Eleanor Holthaus led the charge with four kills, multiple players acted as scoring threats. 

While the offense took a step back in set two, the rhythm was rediscovered as the Cyclones closed out the Bulldogs in four. 

Holthaus ended the match with 14 kills, followed by senior Jaden Newsome and freshmen Maya Duckworth. Although the kill threats were abundant, the offense flowed through Newsome. 

“It’s great because when she’s front row and you only have these two hitters, she’s so offensive that she’s really a third hitter,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. 

Newsome contributed nine kills and 37 assists, helping to set up points but also adding to the total herself. 

When she’s playing up front, Newsome is an asset to the offense. Since she is a scoring threat herself, Newsome is able to draw attention away from other scorers, leaving them open for a kill. 

Combined with Drake’s lively offense, the match was a shootout. The key for the Cyclones was to keep positive momentum rolling when on a scoring run. 

Strong up front

Although it had been an area of weakness earlier in the season, the defense was a major factor in Iowa State’s victory. The Cyclones edged out Drake in digs but truly earned the advantage in their blocking. 

Iowa State had 13 blocks compared to five from the Bulldogs. Junior Alexis Engelbrecht and senior Mariah Mitchell were key contributors, but freshman Kelsey Perry was the most dominant up front. 

“[There was] a lot of communication at the net and with our passers, so we knew what we were doing,” Perry said. “I think that definitely helped us keep up with that really quick offense.”

Key blocks from Perry helped shut down scoring runs from Drake, limiting large swings in momentum. Against a challenging opponent, the ability to earn kills with blocks up front helped close out a tight match. 

Home-court advantage 

Thunderous roars echoed inside Hilton Coliseum time and time again. For a team that already maintains high energy throughout a match, the crowd was an extra boost to help put Drake away. 

It was Iowa State’s first home match of the season, and the crowd played a role in the consistent momentum for the Cyclones. After a couple weekends on the road, a true home environment helped Iowa State keep the match in control. 

“When you’re in a tight set and you’re at home, you feel a little bit better about your chances,” Johnson-Lynch said. 

As the fourth set moved into extra points, each score generated a louder cheer from the crowd, eventually erupting after a block assist by Newsome and Perry to end the match. 

With two more home matches on the horizon, Iowa State will look to capitalize on the energy from the lively crowd. The Cyclones will aim to secure some wins at home, and if they can tap into the energy of the crowd, they may come out of the weekend on the right path.