Three Big Takeaways: Packed house not enough to extend winning streak


Head Coach Chrissy Johnson-Lynch speaks with her team during a timeout at the ISU v Mizzou Exhibition. Aug. 19, 2022.

Iowa State lost a volleyball match for the first time in nearly a month Friday night. Kansas State’s strong middle play and serving proved too much for the Cyclones to handle. 

Despite the crowd of 4,561, Iowa State dropped its first Big 12 match in Hilton Coliseum this season. The 3-1 loss is Iowa State’s second to Kansas State this year, as the Wildcats snapped the eight-match winning streak.

The Cyclones were a step behind Kansas State, and easy points slipped away in the close match.

Hard-fought ending

Iowa State was on the brink of defeat multiple times in the final set, but clutch plays from senior Eleanor Holthaus kept the Cyclones alive. Each time the team fell to match point, Holthaus secured a kill to even the score. 

But when Iowa State scored a key point, Kansas State was able to respond. 

“They’re always diving and making good plays. They read well, so I mean, props to them; they’re a scrappy team,” Holthaus said. 

While the final set went to extra points, it took a Kansas State rally to put the set in contention. Iowa State led 20-10 before an 8-2 run brought the Wildcats back within reach. 

The Cyclones had opportunities to put the match away, but errors and mis-hits on easy balls were costly. Following the late back-and-forth, Iowa State fell short 28-26.

“To me, we should still be playing, that is what’s really hard to swallow right now,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said through clenched teeth. 

“We had several balls that came our way that were like ‘okay easy, easy ball here, yep here we go,’ and we would mishandle it.” 

Long rallies

Throughout the match, both teams were working to scrap out points by any means necessary. Strong play from both defenses resulted in long, drawn-out rallies. 

“I love long rallies, especially when you win them they’re super exciting, the crowd gets so wild, we get so hyped up,” Holthaus said. 

Clutch saves from players like sophomore Brooke Stonestreet and senior Jaden Newsome allowed Iowa State second and third chances on multiple occasions. Constant blocks and digs on both sides of the net contributed to the numerous rallies. 

But as the match drew on, those rallies began to take a toll. 

“When you play four-set matches, five-set matches, those long rallies really take a toll on your body,” Holthaus said. “I feel like you feel it more so afterwards, and during I think that’s kind of the adrenaline that gets you going.”

Season sweep

The loss was Iowa State’s second to Kansas State this season. The Wildcats were 3-7 in conference play heading into the match, but a strong performance from their middle blockers gave Kansas State an edge.

“Going back and looking at the film more we’ll see what was off, why were those middles scoring so much,” Johnson-Lynch said. 

Both Kansas State middle blockers reached double figures, with senior Sydney Bolding leading the team with 14 and junior Kadye Fernholz following behind with 11. Both combined for 9 blocks, earning kills while shutting down Iowa State’s attack up the middle. 

In the previous matchup, Iowa State was completely outserved, earning two service aces while the Wildcats scored 11. Kansas State served tough again, earning six service aces. But Iowa State was able to respond with six of its own.

Iowa State has improved since its last meeting with Kansas State Oct. 2, but the team wasn’t capable of overcoming the Wildcats.

“There were just times where I felt like we didn’t quite look like ourselves. We weren’t quite dialed in to how we can be defensively and energy-wise,” Johnson-Lynch said.