Three Big Takeaways: Cyclone volleyball takes care of business in St. Louis


Tyler Coe

Iowa State junior Jordan Hopp celebrates a point during Iowa State’s match with Northern Iowa on Sept. 13, 2022

Iowa State volleyball completed its non-conference schedule Saturday night at the Billiken Challenge in St. Louis.

The Cyclones used a season-high offensive efficiency to take down Missouri State and gained another reverse sweep win against St. Louis. The Cyclone won all three of its matches at the Billiken Challenge this weekend.

Iowa State won its first match of the Billiken Challenge on Friday when it came back to win against Kansas City. On Saturday, Iowa State moved its overall record to 8-5 with two more wins just before conference play begins.

Offense starts strong

The Cyclones made a strong offensive statement in the first match of Saturday’s competition. 

Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch asked her team for more consistency after the team’s loss on Tuesday to Northern Iowa. Johnson-Lynch and her staff shuffled lineups against the Panthers but didn’t find a consistent winning lineup, the head coach said.

On Saturday, Iowa State responded with its most efficient offensive performance since Nov. 2021 to take its second consecutive win. 

In the first set against Missouri State, the Cyclones six Iowa State players tallied a total 17 kills with a .552 hitting percentage. The Cyclones were led by senior Solei Thomas offensively as they captured the set 25-16. Senior Eleanor Holthaus added two aces in the first set. 

Missouri State responded to win the second set, but the Cyclone offensive stayed locked in. Iowa State won the second and third sets to complete the win in the match. Thomas brought her total to 14 kills in the four-set win by Iowa State. 

Freshman Maya Duckworth was next for the Iowa State offense with 12 kills. Duckworth earned a career-high Friday against Kansas City with her 16 kills. Abby Greiman also contributed a career-high of nine kills to the Cyclone offensive outburst. 

Battle with the Billikens

Iowa State searched for its third consecutive win and sweep of the Billiken Challenge during the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader. 

The Cyclones needed to come back from down two sets to complete the sweep against the nation’s leader in service aces and aces per set. Entering the Billiken Challenge, St. Louis had 102 aces and 2.91 aces per set, both ranked number one nationally. 

On Saturday, St. Louis won the first set 25-13 and outlasted Iowa State in an impressive second set.

The second set saw 76 points played, as St. Louis gained the win 39-37.

The Cyclone lineup responded to take the win in the third set 25-14, hitting for a percentage of .362 and making five aces. In the fourth, the Cyclones evened the match after taking the set again by a score of 25-14.

Iowa State moved its total to 13 aces before the match moved to a deciding fifth set. 

In the fifth set, Iowa State won 15-7 and completed its second reverse sweep of the weekend. With the win Iowa State stayed undefeated at the Billiken Challenge.

Iowa State finished with 15 aces and was led by another career high from Duckworth, her 18 kills were tied for the match lead.

Lineup changes

Johnson-Lynch and the Iowa State coaching staff continued to shift the team’s lineup combinations with the team’s emerging talent getting more chances to take the floor. 

Thomas, who received her first start earlier this week at the Cardinal and Gold Challenge, started again for both matches on Saturday. 

Redshirt junior Greiman, who received her first start against Missouri State on Friday, started again on Saturday in both matches.

Also, for the Billiken Challenge, Brooke Stonestreet returned to the libero position. Sophomore Allie Petry received starting nods at that position during the Cardinal and Gold Challenge.

Iowa State will now face TCU on the road on Sunday Sept. 25 to begin Big 12 conference play.