Iowa State stays disciplined after eighth straight win


Daniel Jacobi

Senior Solei Thomas sets up an attack against Chicago State Nov. 1.

No. 25 Iowa State topped Chicago State Tuesday night, securing its eighth consecutive win for the first time since 2012. The Cyclones were able to sweep the Cougars despite the late-season non-conference matchup.

The victory sent the Cyclones to a 17-7 record, eclipsing the volleyball team’s win total last season. Although Chicago State generated some momentum at times, Iowa State was able to keep the Cougars at bay.

The offense has remained efficient, led by senior Eleanor Holthaus with 12 kills. While no other Cyclone reached double figures, four players earned at least four kills or more.

“I thought (Holthaus) was pretty key for us again, had some pretty nice kills for us late in that third set when we really needed them,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said.

Freshman Maya Duckworth and senior Solei Thomas were also key contributors with 11 kills combined.

The team has been in lockstep throughout the eight-match win streak. Iowa State has been able to shut down inferior opponents recently, which was a struggle early in the season. Still, Chicago State hung around, dropping the second and third sets by a combined six points.

Iowa State had faced off against Chicago State four times in program history. The unfamiliarity combined with facing a non-conference opponent at this point in the season provided the Cyclones with a challenge.

“Usually we’re the team that’s just diving around everywhere, putting a hand out and somehow it stays alive, and I thought we saw that a little more from Chicago State tonight,” Johnson-Lynch said.

The Cougars were a threat defensively; their 57 digs slowed down Iowa State’s momentum and extended rallies, providing Chicago State an opportunity to steal some kills.

While the Cougars threatened to come away with a set win or two, Iowa State ultimately ended the match in three. The sweep was Iowa State’s third in the past four matches.

Close games used to be part of Iowa State’s identity, where the team could match any opponent but often played down to the level of weaker opposition. But recently, the Cyclones have been able to close out matches.

“We play simple and unfazed; whether we get down or we’re ahead, we just stay our course,” Holthaus said. “We do what we need to do.”

The ability to stay the course was a challenge for Iowa State earlier in the season. Errors and self-imposed mistakes resulted in tight sets and close matches.

One of the biggest culprits was ball control, especially at the service line. Serving and passing have been a focus for the team over the past couple of weeks, and it has improved dramatically throughout conference play.

Improvement with ball control was part of what made the difference against Chicago State, as Iowa State had 11 errors compared to 20 from the Cougars.

“I think staying disciplined when things get chaotic, being able to keep the chill on our side of the net is very important,” said Thomas. “Just staying together in those tough situations and being able to control what we could control.”