Three Big Takeaways: Holthaus leads Cyclones past Hawkeyes


Maeley Rosengren

Kelsey Perry and Eleanor Holthaus celebrate a point against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sept. 9.

Iowa State volleyball secured a win against Iowa Friday night behind a match-leading 17 kills from senior Eleanor Holthaus.

“She’s so experienced,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s been in these moments a lot. I think she could tell the team needed her.”

The Cyclones won the final two sets Friday night to win the match 3-1, with Holthaus contributing seven kills in the final frame.

“It wasn’t just attacking,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Her passing, her serving, they maybe don’t show up on the stats, but she did all those things at a high level.”

The match was the first Cyclone win in the rivalry series since 2019. The Cyclones earned their fourth win of the season.

Holthaus heats up

Holthaus, with 3.01 kills per set in her Iowa State career, leads her team offensively so far in 2022. The fifth-year senior slowly gained an offensive rhythm against the in-state rival Friday night.

Holthaus brought her kills and hitting percentage up with each set of the match, gaining momentum from a near-record crowd at Hilton Coliseum.

The Cyclone leader finished with 17 kills and three errors on 40 attempts. Holthaus scored five kills in the first and second sets. In the final two sets, Holthaus provided her team five and seven kills to give Iowa State an offensive boost and the edge in the match.

“My leadership has grown since I was a freshman,” Holthaus said. “I’ve been in moments like this.”

‘Our block is there’

Out of the gate, Iowa State blocked three Iowa attempts. The Cyclones registered three blocks and three kills before Iowa got on the board.

Junior middle blocker Alexis Engelbrecht gained three block assists in the first set and Maya Duckworth, Jordan Hopp and setter Jaden Newsome each added two more.

The Hawkeyes were forced to take a timeout down 6-0 in the first set.

Facing Drake on Wednesday night, Iowa State won the blocking battle 13.0 to 5.0 to help earn the edge over the Bulldogs. The Cyclones had work to do after their win over Drake, Johnson-Lynch admitted, but the team’s ability to block balls at the net was promising, she said.

“Our block is there,” Johnson-Lynch said postgame on Wednesday.

Again, on Friday night against Iowa, the Cyclone blockers made their presence known. Iowa State set the tone with five blocks in the first set.

The blocks going rattled the Hawkeye offense. Iowa gained eight kills but committed eight errors on 33 attempts in the first set, posting a hitting percentage of .000.

“The first six points was fun,” Engelbrecht said postgame. “When you have a good start, you feel more confident, you feel more together as a team.”

In the match-deciding fourth set, Iowa State added three blocks to the box score, including two from Holthaus and a match-ending block by Mariah Mitchell.

“The block can change the hitter’s mind and can intimidate them. It can make a big difference in the match,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I would say that last play was an example.” 

Mitchell ended the match with seven kills, one solo block and one block assist.

The Cyclones finished with 13.0 blocks again Friday night, besting the Hawkeye total of 7.0.

Passing and ball handling

The defensive effort in the first provided a jolt of momentum for Iowa State, but Iowa’s offensive efficiency slowly gained steam.

Cyclone setter Jaden Newsome plays the ball at the net against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sept. 9. Photo by Jacob Rice.

The Hawkeyes responded to win the second set of the match. Iowa State’s committed six errors to go with its six kills in the second set.

“I thought Iowa was serving us tough,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We were scrambling.”

After the Iowa State 6-0 run to start the match, the Cyclones passing and ball handling were just not comfortable, Johnson-Lynch said.

The Hawkeyes earned the win in the second set 25-17.

The Cyclones will complete the Cyclone Challenge on Saturday with a match against Wright State. The Raiders forced Iowa to five sets Friday afternoon, losing the match to the Hawkeyes 3-2.