Conference play continues with No. 13 Baylor


Robert Dillon

Cyclone Kelsey Perry watches as teammate Kate Shannon bumps the ball against Wright State on Sept. 10

Iowa State volleyball returns home Wednesday night, searching for its first Big 12 conference win of the season.
The Cyclones will face No. 13 Baylor — the team picked to finish second in the Big 12 preseason poll — as the next challenge on the Big 12 conference schedule.

“We always do a little bit of prep, but I still continue to think a lot of it is on us,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said leading up to Wednesday’s match. “I don’t know if it’s always so much what’s going on the other side of the net.”

Johnson-Lynch and company recently finished a four-game road trip where the Cyclones came away with three wins at the Billiken Classic in St. Louis. The Cyclones then saw key freshman talent compete in their first Big 12 conference match against TCU.

In Fort Worth, the Cyclones earned a win in the first set but lost to the Horned Frogs 3-1. The matchup with TCU was the Big 12 debut for Iowa State’s freshman standout, Maya Duckworth.

Duckworth, a Texas native in the Fort Worth area, extended her streak of matches with double-digit kills Saturday against TCU. With her ten kills last game, Duckworth earned her fifth consecutive match with 10 or more kills.

Freshman blocker Kelsey Perry also made her Big 12 debut in Saturday’s loss to the Horned Frogs. Perry played two sets against TCU and added a pair of triple blocks to the box score. Her 1.43 blocks per set currently put her at second among all Big 12 blockers. She is first among freshmen.

In the Big 12 preseason poll, Iowa State was third, just behind Baylor. In its 2022 season, Baylor took down No. 3 Wisconsin in five sets. The Bears lost to Pepperdine on Sept. 1 but have since earned 10 straight wins. Baylor has an overall record of 11-2.

“We can beat this team,” junior Alexis Engelbrecht said. “They’re a great team, and we’re a great team too. We just have to battle it out.”

Engelbrecht assisted for seven and earned one solo block in the team’s latest matchup with TCU.

Baylor has demonstrated high-level performances on the defensive and offensive ends. The Bears limit opponents to a .153 hitting percentage, and senior middle blocker Kara McGhee leads the conference in total blocks and blocks per set. McGhee also sports a .426 hitting percentage on the offensive side.

Additionally, fifth-year senior and Texas A&M transfer Mallory Talbert leads the conference with a .447 hitting percentage. Overall, Baylor has earned 13.58 kills per set in 2022 matches, ranking second in the Big 12.

Baylor currently holds a ten-match win streak in matches with Iowa State.

Against TCU, the Horned Frogs bested the Cyclones in terms of offensive efficiency. They limited Iowa State to a .126 hitting percentage with 16 total blocks.

“We were good for stretches but not long enough,” Johnson-Lynch said. “TCU is a very good team, and they have been playing better and better. There’s lots of pieces to this that we need to keep working at.”

In Fort Worth, the Cyclones were led offensively by Eleanor Holthaus with 12 kills. Holthaus is closing in on another milestone for her five-year Cyclone career. The senior outside hitter is 41 kills away from fifth on the all-time Iowa State kills list.

The Cyclones and Bears will face off at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum. The match will also be televised on ESPN2.