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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State extends win streak with sweep over UCF

Cyclones+jump+in+excitement+after+scoring+a+point+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+University+of+Central+Florida+Volleyball+Game%2C+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Nov.+22%2C+2023.
Josue Aleman
Cyclones jump in excitement after scoring a point during the Iowa State vs. University of Central Florida Volleyball Game, Hilton Coliseum, Nov. 22, 2023.

In the penultimate match of the regular season the Cyclones cruised to victory in a sweep of UCF (25-14, 25-22, 25-23).

Iowa State rode a strong offensive performance in the first set through the following two sets to secure the sweep over the Big 12 newcomer Knights.

Here are takeaways from each set of Wednesday night’s action.

Cyclones dominate first set

The Cyclones came out hot Wednesday night, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back on their way to a 25-14 set win.

Lilly Wachholz and Maya Duckworth led the way for the Cyclones in the first set, with each tallying five kills while hitting over .400

The Cyclone defense also had a strong performance in the first set, holding UCF to .030 hitting.

The dominant first-set performance was especially impressive as starting libero Brooke Stonestreet suffered an apparent leg injury that kept her out for the remainder of the match.

“We don’t know yet, hopefully it calms down in the next couple days and she can get back on the court,” said head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch on Stonestreet’s status going forward.

Second set comeback

The second set followed a completely different script, as it was the Knights who jumped out to the early lead.

The Cyclones struggled offensively in the second set, hitting .089, but after they looked as though the set was lost down 19-15, the Cyclones flipped a switch, coming back to win the set 25-22.

“We just talked a lot about putting the ball in the box, and when we put the ball in the box it gives us a lot of offensive options, and taking care of the ball,” Johnson-Lynch said on how the Cyclones turned things around late in the set.

Cyclones win back-and-forth third set

The third set saw neither team grab an extended lead, as it was back-and-forth the whole way before the Cyclones ultimately prevailed with a match-ending ace to win 25-23.

Duckworth once again led the offensive charge for the Cyclones with five kills in the fifth set, with Nayeli Gonzalez and Wachholz having three a piece.

Winning this match was a huge testament to the Cyclones’ mindset heading into the postseason.

“This is such a big win for us for so many reasons, for the standings, the RPI (rating percentage index), getting ready for the tournament, playing at home, for all of those reasons. I was a little nervous about this match because it’s Thanksgiving and we have a lot of families around and there’s a lot of distractions, but we grinded and found a way to win,” Johnson-Lynch said.

The Cyclones end their regular season on Saturday at home against Cincinnati. The Cyclones will honor three seniors for their final match at Hilton Coliseum.

The match is scheduled for 2 p.m. and can be watched live on ESPN+.

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