Iowa State volleyball opens conference play against TCU


Daniel Jacobi II

Eleanor Holthaus hits the ball over a row of blockers against Northern Iowa on Sept. 13.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

After a 13-game non-conference slate, Iowa State will open Big 12 play on the road against TCU Saturday. The Cyclones look to maintain their recent success against TCU after sweeping the Horned Frogs last season. 

The Cyclones aim to extend their winning streak after sweeping the Billiken Invitational. Now that conference play has arrived, Iowa State gets a chance to see how much progress has been made from the start of the season. 

“I think we did use the preseason as we normally do to learn about our team and figure out how to put that puzzle together in the best way,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said.

Iowa State has worked to figure out a consistent roster rotation, along with the most optimal scheme. The focus throughout the non-conference slate was to try everything and see what worked. 

The Cyclones are leaning towards a 6-2 system – where six hitters and two setters are on the floor at all times – and are still narrowing down a set lineup. 

Towards the start of the season, Iowa State was running with a new lineup in almost every set. But now, players have begun to settle into their roles, helping to speed up development. Although the offense struggled at times earlier in the season, the Cyclones have gotten into a rhythm.

“We’re just getting better numbers, we’re more efficient, more people are getting kills,” Johnson-Lynch said. 

Along with more players getting kills, there are also more players Iowa State can depend on in critical moments. Recently, players like freshman Maya Duckworth and senior Solei Thomas became key components of the offense. 

Duckworth earned 46 kills over three games in the Billiken Invitational and Thomas scored 39. Both players are starting to emerge as the bulk of the schedule remains to be played. 

“I think I’ve grown through every match, every set I’ve played,” Duckworth said. “Even if I wasn’t playing, like when I was hurt, I learned and grew just watching everybody else play.”

Against TCU, Iowa State will have its hands full with an up-tempo offense. TCU also runs a 6-2 system, so Iowa State will be competing against a style similar to its own. 

The Cyclones will also be faced with plenty of athleticism and a brand new staff, including first-year head coach Jason Williams. 

“On film, they’re pretty solid. They’re athletic in just about every position,” Johnson-Lynch said. “They probably have a little bit different look to them than we’re used to. They’re trying to run a pretty quick offense.” 

Iowa State will take on TCU at 2 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.