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Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones fall to UCSB 3-1 in Cyclone Invitational opener

Despite its success early on, the Iowa State volleyball team dropped its first match of the Cyclone Invitational with a 3-1 loss against UCSB on Thursday night.

The Cyclones opened up their home tournament with a loss against a strong Gauchos team that took advantage of the holes in Iowa State’s defense. They also suffered from offensive mistakes, which allowed UCSB to take a commanding lead later in the match and ultimately hand the Cyclones their second loss of the season.

Here are the three big takeaways from Iowa State’s opening match of the Cyclone Invitational.

Cyclones start strong

During the first set, the Cyclones looked like they were going to make short work of the visiting Gauchos. While the beginning was a back-and-forth affair with each team taking the lead, the Cyclones rallied a consistent offense to take the first set 25-20.

Freshman Nayeli Gonzalez was the aggressor for the Cyclones early on and racked up six kills and four digs during the first set. Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch praised the freshman for how she’s developed a solid role in the starting lineup and adjusting to the collegiate level.

“She [Gonzalez] is super physical, and she can take over matches,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s having to do a lot and she’s doing a really nice job.”

Gauchos capitalize on Cyclones’ offensive mistakes

After a successful opening set, Iowa State struggled to keep things rolling the rest of the match.

One major factor that played into the team’s downfall was the amount of free points they gave up on attack errors. After sliding by in the first set with seven, the Cyclones tallied five in both the second and third sets often launching the ball too hard over the middle.

Johnson-Lynch talked about the difficulty of coming from behind, especially when the opposing team seems to have figured them out.

“It’s really hard to win against a good team when your high error,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Whether it was serving errors or hitting into their block, we felt a lot of pressure. When you feel pressure you force a lot of things, and we errored a lot.”

Because of these mistakes, the Gauchos played off of the Cyclone hiccups and took early leads in the second and third sets. UCSB seemed to be hitting all the spots that Iowa State players weren’t at and settled into a successful offense of its own.

Cyclone offensive struggles carry into the final set

Despite a late rally by the Cyclones to make things interesting, the Gauchos ultimately pulled away and won the fourth set 25-20. Iowa State cleaned up its mistakes, committing three attack errors in the fourth set but saw an early 9-3 deficit they couldn’t turn around.

The young Cyclones team proved they are capable of coming from behind when they beat Iowa on the road after being down two sets. Iowa State also has two other road wins against GCU and Omaha.

Johnson-Lynch believes their focus now is to learn from their mistakes in this matchup and improve defensively to not have another night like they did.

“It’s in us; we can be resilient,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I think our theme right now is we have to work harder defensively and learn from this match about what they did to make us struggle.”

Iowa State will continue the Cyclone Invitational at 6:30 p.m. Friday when the team takes on Ohio, who lost its first-round matchup against Drake in five sets.

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