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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State’s postseason ends after falling to Hawaii in four sets

Maeley Rosengren
The Cyclones stand to be announced at the Iowa State vs. Kansas volleyball game, Hilton Coliseum, Nov. 10, 2023.

In a tightly contested match between two similar teams, Iowa State and Hawaii fought hard to advance in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cyclones started strong, Hawaii fought back, and in the end, it was the Rainbow Wahine getting the win in four sets (25-16, 24-26, 18-25, 23-25).

Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Cyclones’ final match of the season against Hawaii:

Momentum shifts, Hawaii takes control

Iowa State started the first set slow out of the gate, trailing by four. A timeout was called to try and stop Hawaii and start fresh.

The timeout must have worked, because something changed after that. Following another point for Hawaii, Iowa State woke up and took command.

The Cyclones went on an 8-0 run and never looked back. Hawaii tried to regroup with a timeout but to no avail.

Another run later, 6-0, allowed the Cyclones to further their advantage and keep Hawaii down. Iowa State’s largest lead was 10, which was more than enough to hold off Hawaii to take the first set.

The Rainbow Wahine would not go away quietly, however.

The Cyclones did lead for a while in set two, but Hawaii was going on scoring runs and clawed its way back due to poor hitting late in the set from the Cyclones.

Hawaii took set two and built momentum into the third set, winning that thanks to a late breakaway. The Cyclones were outscored 9-5 to finish set three, giving the overall match lead to Hawaii 2-1.

Hawaii would keep its momentum rolling. Iowa State fought hard to win set four with a crucial 5-0 run to take a 16-13 lead but Hawaii took it back and won the match.

Ups and downs of offense

Like many matches this season, the serving was aggressive for the Cyclones. Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch has said all season that serving aggressively is something the Cyclones have focused on and has been the key to winning many matches.

Thursday night was no different. The Cyclones had eight aces, with four in the first set.

Sophomore Maya Duckworth was the dominant server for Iowa State. The sophomore had five aces, setting a personal record.

Senior Annie Hatch had two aces in her final match of her collegiate career and Big 12 Freshman of the Year Nayeli Gonzalez had one ace to go with her 13 kills.

Iowa State did serve better than Hawaii. The Rainbow Wahine had just four aces and 11 service errors.

The mishandled serves allowed the defense to grab blocks, or allowed the offense to get set and get kills on the ensuing possession.

The Cyclones outkilled Hawaii 57-53, led by Duckworth with 15, but Iowa State had 14 more attack errors than Hawaii.

That big difference hurt the hitting percentage for the Cyclones as Hawaii outhit Iowa State .276 to .186.

An early end for the seniors

The 2023 Iowa State season finished earlier than expected. Seniors Alexis Engelbrecht, Hatch and Jordan Hopp all played well in their final match for Iowa State.

Engelbrecht had 13 kills, Hatch had eight, her highest total of the season and Hopp had seven. Engelbrecht led the Cyclones in individual hitting percentage at .478.

Blocking, Engelbrecht and Hopp had two apiece. The duo was tough at the net all season and showcased what they could do one final time.

Earlier in the week, Engelbrecht and Hatch expressed their excitement for this year’s tournament opportunity and felt like it would be a good year for the Cyclones. The road in their final season stopped short, exiting in round one to Hawaii.

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