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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State wins thriller over Cincinnati in regular season finale

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.

The Cyclones finished the regular season with an exciting match, coming back to defeat Cincinnati in five sets (27-29, 21-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-12) to send the seniors out with a victory.

Here are three big takeaways from the Cyclones’ final regular season match.

Cyclone stars shine

In the final match of the regular season, Maya Duckworth and Nayeli Gonzalez continued to play at the elite level they have been all season long.

The pair of outside hitters have led the Cyclones in kills all season, and on Saturday they each had one of their best performances of the season.

Gonzalez, who leads the team in kills, led the Cyclones in the category once again Saturday night. The freshman had a hitting percentage of .382 while recording 28 kills, with one of those kills being the match-winning point in the fifth set.

Duckworth, second on the team in kills, was second in kills in Saturday’s match. The sophomore also broke the 20-kill mark while hitting .228 in the match.

Overcame serving struggles

One reason why the match was so close was the Cyclones’ struggles while serving as well as receiving serves.

The Cyclones committed 14 serving errors in the match, compared to Cincinnati who had more aces than errors while serving, with nine aces and six errors.

Serving has been something that head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch has emphasized being strong at throughout the season, but Saturday’s match was certainly a disappointing effort in that aspect of the match.

The Cyclones will have to improve on their serving performance on Saturday if they want to make real noise in the postseason.

Eyes towards the postseason

The Cyclone regular season is now officially wrapped up and now they wait to see what awaits in the future. They went 20-9 overall and 11-7 in Big 12 matches, including three wins against teams ranked in the top-25.

This is the best record the Cyclones have had since 2017 and gives them a chance to find their way into this year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Cyclones will not have to wait long to see what lies ahead.

The NCAA Tournament selection show is at 5 p.m. Sunday. This is where the team will figure out if they have made it into the tournament, what region they will be in, what site they will play their first game at and most importantly who their first-round opponent will be.

The selection show can be watched live on ESPN.

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