Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State drops first home match against UNI


Daniel Jacobi II

Senior Eleanor Holthaus tries to save a point against Northern Iowa on Sept. 13.

Iowa State dropped its first home match of the season Tuesday night, losing to Northern Iowa in four sets. While some new players excelled at times, inconsistency was costly for the volleyball squad.

With the loss, Iowa State failed to secure an in-state sweep after defeating Drake and Iowa. As the final non-conference tournament approaches, the Cyclones have yet to nail down a consistent lineup.

In-state sweep falls short
Northern Iowa stopped the in-state sweep attempt in its tracks, fully controlling the match against Iowa State. The defense was stellar for the Panthers, and the offense flowed smoothly with 55 total kills.

Although a majority of set one was competitive, Northern Iowa pulled away with the help of junior Emily Holterhaus earning seven kills. The energy from the Panther sideline outmatched Iowa State, as Northern Iowa began to take control.

“You don’t want to just be trying to grasp at straws. That’s what I felt like I was doing tonight, just grasping,” said head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. Johnson-Lynch has been going back and forth between two offensive systems and has had a different lineup every set, trying to see what roster combos may work.

The Cyclones found some success in the second set, winning 25-22, but dropped the next two sets, falling 20-25 and 19-25. Although the team showed some fight, there wasn’t enough to complete a comeback.

“They’re a really good team, really big and physical. They were aggressive the whole time,” said freshman Maya Duckworth. Once the Panthers found a groove, Iowa State had trouble finding a way back into the match.

Errors plagued the Cyclones
While Northern Iowa’s aggressive nature provided a significant challenge, Iowa State did itself no favors. A multitude of errors put the team behind and halted chances to get back into the match. Combined with unfavorable bounces of the ball, it was a frustrating night for the Cyclones.

Iowa State had a .108 hitting percentage, with 28 total attacking errors. Even when a mistake didn’t show up on the stat sheet, inconsistencies at points of contact limited the team’s offensive capability.

“Either it was like we would struggle passing or we would miss set or we would force something offensively and make an error. We were pretty high error at times,” Johnson-Lynch said.

As the season continues, Iowa State will look to iron out some consistency issues that have been a burden since late August. With a more focused lineup, Johnson-Lynch hopes that some of the fundamental issues will be corrected.

Growing pains
Despite a string of recent success, Iowa State still has a ways to go before taking the next step up. While the potential is high for Iowa State, this young team is still facing some growing pains.

“Sometimes when you have young players, experience counts for a lot,” said Johnson-Lynch. “When you’re young, some of those mistakes are going to happen because of inexperience. But that’s not an excuse.”

Although the Cyclones struggled, some fresh faces made an impact. Duckworth was electric, leading the team with 12 kills and bringing energy late in the fourth set. Senior Solei Thomas also had a standout performance, taking advantage of recent playing time opportunities.

“The thing is just being consistent in what you’re doing, and hopefully your teammates will follow along and then just go from there,” Thomas said. The Cyclones will need Thomas’ consistency, as she had a .333 hitting percentage with 10 kills and three errors.

Iowa State showed flashes of excellence again, but couldn’t fight back from a deficit. With conference play steadily approaching, the Cyclones will have a few more opportunities to iron out some inconsistencies.