Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State reverse sweeps Kansas City


Daniel Jacobi II

Maya Duckworth receives the ball in 3-1 loss against Northern Iowa on Sept. 13.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

Iowa State snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat, winning in five sets over Kansas City Friday afternoon. A late scoring run helped the Cyclones secure their first win of the Saint Louis Invitational. 

Hope seemed lost for Iowa State, as the volleyball squad trailed the match 0-2 and found itself down in the third set. Despite their deficit, the Cyclones clawed back and reverse swept the Roos.

With two more non-conference matches remaining, Iowa State still has kinks to work out before its Big 12 opener against TCU. 

Better late than never

Although it seemed like the match was out of reach, Iowa State made its way back to reverse sweep Kansas City. Another star showing from freshman Maya Duckworth was the impetus for Iowa State’s comeback. 

A back-and-forth first set leaned Kansas City’s way, as the Roos got hot and pulled away with a 5-0 scoring run. They secured the set 25-19, out-scoring Iowa State with 15 kills.

Set two was more of the same, as Iowa State took a slight lead to start, but quickly fell behind. The Cyclones attempted to work their way back, but dropped the set 25-20, with Kansas City freshman Kimora Whetstone and senior Raina Smith putting on an early offensive clinic.

The Cyclones looked out of control and were on pace to lose the match in straight sets. A 6-0 scoring run helped put Iowa State on top, as senior Mariah Mitchell began to settle in after a quiet first half. Iowa State won the set 25-17 and kept the momentum rolling in set four, winning 25-21. 

By the fifth set, Iowa State was in full control of the match. After an early 2-0 deficit, Iowa State went on a 7-0 scoring run, putting the match out of reach. The Cyclones took care of business, winning the set 15-10 and securing a 3-2 victory. 

Duckworth keeps Iowa State alive

Had it not been for Duckworth, Iowa State may have succumbed to a straight-set defeat. She was a standout in the Cyclones’ previous match, and her 16-kill performance was pivotal in keeping the team in contention. 

Duckworth has been the reliable scorer when other veterans have remained quiet, and her impact was felt against Kansas City. She kept Iowa State in the match when the Roos seemed to be running away with it, and continued to be effective as Mitchell and senior Eleanor Holthaus began to take over.  

Clutch kills and a key block from Duckworth were monumental in Iowa State remaining competitive in the match. More than anything, she bought the Cyclones time for Mitchell and Holthaus to find their footing and help Iowa State climb over the hump. 

Live or die with the veterans 

Despite how well Duckworth performed, the success of Iowa State resides with the performance of the veteran talent. Without Holthaus or Mitchell re-emerging as key factors, Iowa State was doomed to lose the match. 

In the Cyclones’ recent string of wins, Holthaus took command with multiple 17-kill performances. Mitchell was a key offensive contributor in Iowa State’s early season wins, and a big part of why the Cyclones remained competitive against multiple ranked opponents. 

Even senior Jaden Newsome, who facilitates the offense with her ability to generate assists, has been able to take over matches this season. When those stars are neutered, Iowa State falls to a massive disadvantage. 

While fresh faces like Duckworth or senior Solei Thomas – who has been seeing an increasing amount of playing time – can have a high-impact series, the veterans need to be ever-present. Consistency among Iowa State’s best will determine how much success the young team can have this season.