Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones cruise to sixth straight victory


Tyler Coe

Maya Duckworth serves the ball in upset win over No. 1 Texas on Oct. 19.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

Iowa State made quick work of West Virginia on the road Wednesday night. An efficient offensive performance paired with key blocks helped the Cyclones secure their second win over the Mountaineers, this time in straight sets. 

The volleyball team has been on a roll recently, earning its sixth straight win and third consecutive win on the road. Iowa State struggled on the road early in Big 12 play, but ever since its win at Oklahoma, the team has been unfazed by a road environment. 

In the previous matchup, West Virginia pushed Iowa State, forcing the Cyclones to complete a reverse sweep. While the Mountaineers hung around throughout the match, clean performances on both ends kept West Virginia out of reach. 

Second straight sweep

With the win, Iowa State captured its second consecutive sweep. The win also marked Iowa State’s second sweep of the season; the previous coming against Texas Tech on the road. 

“Oh it was really nice,” freshman Maya Duckworth said in regard to getting the first sweep of the season, prior to the match against West Virginia. “I have to say it was pretty nice to do it, especially on the road.” 

Although they have yet to win a match in Big 12 play, the Mountaineers kept each set competitive, losing a set by four points at most. West Virginia came back in set two after an 8-0 run and led late in the third set. 

But Iowa State’s offense was able to go on runs in key moments. Seniors Eleanor Holthaus and Solei Thomas reached double figures in kills. A kill from Duckworth clinched the first two sets, and a final blow from junior Alexis Engelbrecht closed out the match. 

Big blocks

While the offense found success, the defense was just as impactful for Iowa State. The Cyclones had nine blocks and 51 digs in total, halting West Virginia when it was on a scoring run. 

Engelbrecht led Iowa State with five blocks, shutting down the Mountaineers whenever they tried to score up the middle. Duckworth and senior Annie Hatch were blocking threats on the outside, leaving West Virginia with limited attacking options. 

Sophomore Brooke Stonestreet was another major contributor on the defensive end. She had 18 of Iowa State’s 51 digs, saving the Cyclones after a bad pass or preventing a West Virginia kill. 

Stonestreet has developed into a star for Iowa State over the past couple of weeks. She was key in Iowa State’s win over No. 1 Texas and had 16 digs in the Cyclones’ win over Texas Tech the following match.

In a match where errors weren’t a major factor, a strong defensive performance prevented any potential of a West Virginia comeback. 

Improved ball control

In its previous matchup against West Virginia, Iowa State was plagued by errors and ball control issues. The Cyclones had 29 total errors, including 17 service errors. 

Throughout a string of matches where ball control was costly to Iowa State, head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch began to make passing and serving a priority in practice. The team has improved week after week, cleaning up its unforced errors and eliminating costly service errors. 

Iowa State improved to 18 errors, nine of which came at the service line. The difference in error totals in a two-week period prevented a competitive West Virginia team from stealing any sets in the 3-0 win. 

The Cyclones’ success has correlated with improved ball control. The team has been on a 6-0 winning streak after making passing and serving a priority. They have been able to compete for a top spot in the conference when unforced errors are a non-factor and compounding momentum isn’t killed with a hit into the net.