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Iowa State Daily

No. 5 Texas, No. 21 Houston await Iowa State in final road stretch

The+Cyclones+stand+to+be+announced+at+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Kansas+volleyball+game%2C+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Nov.+10%2C+2023.+%0A
Maeley Rosengren
The Cyclones stand to be announced at the Iowa State vs. Kansas volleyball game, Hilton Coliseum, Nov. 10, 2023.

After an eventful weekend against Kansas, Iowa State heads to the Lone Star State to battle the two top Big 12 teams. The Cyclones will kick off the final road stretch of the season Wednesday when they take on No. 5 Texas before playing No. 21 Houston on Friday.

Texas enters the match in first place in the Big 12 with a 14-1 conference record. The lone loss occurred Wednesday in a sweep to Kansas State.

Last year, Texas lost just one match all season en route to winning the national championship. That one loss was to Iowa State.

Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch knows it will be a big challenge to beat Texas again, but said she believes Iowa State always has a shot.

“It’s a tough gym to play in, but we play very well down there,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It’s a high-energy place to play. We’ve almost beaten them down there, so that’s why we play because we feel like we have a chance.”

Johnson-Lynch emphasized that rest and recovery are going to be much needed to prepare for Texas and Houston. Both matches last week against Kansas went the distance and ended in five sets.

“Mostly we’re trying to rest, recover and stay healthy. This time of year everyone is kind of banged up,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Freshman Nayeli Gonzalez will look to continue her outstanding season after winning her second consecutive Big 12 Rookie of the Week award. Gonzalez had 31 kills and three aces in the first match against Kansas to earn the award for the fourth time this season.

That strong effort in the serving game is something Johnson-Lynch wants to see every match, even more so against an explosive Texas bunch.

“Serving and passing is always going to be important. Hitting high against their big block is going to be really important—trying to be us, play Iowa State volleyball, keep the ball alive and get into some long rallies,” Johnson-Lynch said.

The Longhorns average nearly two aces per set and have a season hit percentage of .275. Opponents of Texas are held to .188, and the defense gets nearly three blocks per set.

“They’re both outside dependent, so they put a lot of balls to the outside hitters. They have relatively fast offenses and they’re both very physical, so the themes are kind of the same,” Johnson-Lynch said.

No. 21 Houston currently sits at a 9-5 conference record and holds opponents to a .171 hitting percentage. The Cougars will play TCU on Wednesday before playing Iowa State on Friday.

Iowa State starts its final two road games against Texas at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and the match will be on the Longhorn Network. The match with Houston will be 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN+.

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    Russ Twelmeyer | Nov 15, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Another great article from Brett Twelmeyer.

    Reply