Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones outlast Kansas in four tight sets


Lee Chinyama

Eleanor Holthaus spikes the ball in 3-1 win over Kansas on Oct. 7.

Anthony Hanson, Sports Reporter

Iowa State and Kansas saw eight ties and five lead changes in the final set Friday night as the Cyclones beat the Jayhawks 3-1. 

Kansas, who was receiving votes in the latest national rankings, lingered but Iowa State came out on top as senior Eleanor Holthaus came closer to another career milestone and Maya Duckworth added five service aces.

Holthaus became tied for the fifth-most kills by any Cyclone in history with her 11 kills on Friday night. She was joined by Alexis Engelbrecht and Solei Thomas as team leaders. 

Here are the major takeaways from Iowa State’s third conference win in Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones have yet to gain a road win in the Big 12 conference. 

Evenly matched teams

Each of the matches’ last three sets were decided by less than five points and Kansas was narrowly the more efficient team in the match. 

Entering the match, Kansas was in the middle of the Big 12 conference standings at 2-2. Kansas began the season ranked as the nation’s 23rd-best team. After a 9-0 start to the 2022 season, Kansas was ranked 19 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. 

“Kansas is a great team, they have some really good hitters,” Engelbrecht said post-match. “That’s fun to play against because you’re testing your blockers like, ‘how good can we be every point.’”

The Kansas hitters started slow, making eight kills on 42 swings in the first set. In the second set, Kansas made a match-high 15 kills, enough to take the set from Iowa State and even the match. 

The next two sets were contested closely. With a Big 12 win hanging in the balance, both of the final two sets were decided by less than two points. Iowa State grabbed the win in both 25-23. 

The Big 12 grind

Iowa State came into the match looking to respond to its most recent loss to Kansas State. While the Cyclones gained a marquee win over No. 13 Baylor last week, momentum was lost when the Cyclones lost to the Wildcats in straight sets. 

The toughness displayed by Kansas on Friday night was another example of the nature of the team’s Big 12 schedule, head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. Long rallies, physical matches and critical points are what the Cyclones need to expect going forward. 

“To me, that felt like another typical Big 12 match,” Johnson-Lynch said. 

“We have put together two really nice matches against two very good Big 12 teams,” Johnson-Lynch said. “That tells me who we are and who we can be.”

Next up, the Cyclones face West Virginia and will look to take a winning record in conference play. 

Balanced offense

A trio of Iowa State attackers led the way offensively on Friday night. Thomas, Holthaus and Engelbrecht all contributed 11 kills to Iowa State’s balanced offensive attack. 

In the first set, five Cyclones notched multiple kills. In the first frame, three Iowa State starters had three kills. 

Duckworth started the match with the hot hand serving for Iowa State. The true freshman contributed back-to-back aces in the first. Duckworth continued to find holes in the Kansas serve receive. She continued to notch a service ace in each of the next three sets. 

Duckworth finished with a career-high five aces in the match. Her previous career high was two. 

Engelbrecht also posted a career-high in kills during Friday’s match. She added four block assists and a solo block to her box score.