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Iowa State Daily

Cyclones open conference play against West Virginia

The+Cyclone+bench+has+some+fun+during+an+intermission+in+play+against+Ohio+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Sept.+15%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
The Cyclone bench has some fun during an intermission in play against Ohio at Hilton Coliseum on Sept. 15, 2023.

Iowa State’s non-conference slate ended Saturday with a sweep against Drake, which capped off a 9-2 start to the season.

The Cyclones found themselves ranked T-25th with Western Kentucky in the AVCA rankings heading into Big 12 play. The Big 12 has five other teams in the top 25; those teams are Texas, BYU, Kansas, Baylor and Houston.

The Big 12 looks to be one of the toughest conferences in the country, and Iowa State kicks off the gauntlet in Morgantown, West Virginia, for a double header against the Mountaineers.

In 2022, Iowa State went 2-0 against West Virginia winning the first match in five sets and the second in a sweep.

West Virginia finished non-conference play 6-6 and is riding a two-game winning streak after beating North Dakota State and Robert Morris.

Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.

“Any road game in the Big 12 is challenging,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It can be a tough place to play, so I think it will be a mental challenge more than anything.”

Though acknowledging that back-to-back matches at West Virginia will be difficult, Johnson-Lynch thinks her team is right where they want to be.

“We’re closer to a more settled lineup this week, but the great thing about our team is that we have so much depth, so if someone is struggling or is hurt we still feel confident,” Johnson-Lynch said.

One player the Cyclones might turn to for a big performance is redshirt freshman Lilly Wachholz. Wachholz is coming off of her best three-match stretch of the season, winning the Cyclone Invite MVP after tallying six blocks and 31 kills at an outstanding .433 hitting.

“[Wachholz] is really starting to come on… she’s had a really nice string of matches,” Johnson-Lynch said about Wachholz’s stand-out performance over the weekend.

The Cyclones will have to continue their success on the road this season if they want to get out to a hot start in Big 12 play. They are currently 5-1 in games away from Hilton Coliseum including 3-0 in true-road matches.

The matches against West Virginia start at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday in Morgantown, West Virginia. Both matches will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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