Cyclone volleyball hope to bring its own energy against Texas Tech

A group of Cyclones go up to defend a hit by the Hawkeyes in the volleyball game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the annual Cy-Hawk Series on Sept. 14, 2018. After a long, well-fought battle, the Cyclones ended up losing 3-1.

Spencer Suckow

Following nearly a full week of rest, Iowa State volleyball will be back in action Friday, taking on Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.

The last time the Cyclones played, the team lossed in an emotional, roller coaster-like match with No. 19 Baylor at home. Iowa State got off to a hot start by taking the first set but fell behind after dropping the next two sets.

The Cyclones then nearly mounted a comeback and forced a fifth set, but Baylor, behind 39 kills from Yossiana Pressley, ultimately squeaked out a victory.

It was another chapter in what’s been a common theme for the Cyclones this season: The team can play with anyone but can never seem to put together a complete match. Sure, there will be flashes and sets that remind you why the team was ranked No. 21 to start the season, but those flashes will often then be replaced by uptight play and an inability to finish.

While this inability to finish may stem from the team’s youth, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch says that it likely more has to do with the team’s struggles doing the little things, such as blocking, serving and coverage.

“It’s not hitters going from hitting .200 (hitting percentage) to .400,” Johnson-Lynch said of improving. “It’s keeping one more ball in play, blocking one more ball and covering one more ball. It’s little things, but if each player does one little thing per set, it equals three or four points.”

Often times, those little things have meant all of the difference in a given match, and not doing them has certainly cost the Cyclones a few wins they feel they should’ve had.

Another reason, according to Johnson-Lynch, is the fact the team tends to respond emotionally to the flow of the game. Going back to the issue of uptight play, the Cyclones’ head coach says the team tends to play loose and respond well when they’re winning, but worry too much about making mistakes when they’re not.

The key going forward, then, is to stay consistent throughout the ebbs and flows of the game. And when things don’t go the way of the Cyclones, to try and stay even-keeled and minimize the damage 

“Stopping the runs is a big thing for us,” said freshman outside hitter Eleanor Holthaus. “And keeping the same energy throughout. We want to keep our talk and energy constant.”

That will be a big challenge for the Cyclones on Friday against Texas Tech, whom Johnson-Lynch called a “complete team”. The Red Raiders are off to a great start this year with a 13-3 record overall, and a 2-0 record in the Big 12 with a win over the same Baylor team that just defeated Iowa State.

With the Red Raiders looking like a legit team, Iowa State will likely have multiple opportunities when it comes to stopping runs. Through two games in Big 12 play, Texas Tech has an average hitting percentage of .294, while holding opponents to just a .149 hitting percentage.

“They’re pretty good.” said redshirt junior libero Hali Hillegas of the Red Raiders. “They’re usually really scrappy. They like to keep a lot of balls up, so I think it’s just about how much we can rally on and win those long rallies.”

On top of dealing with a solid, scrappy team, Iowa State may also have to overcome certain difficulties that come with playing in Lubbock.

Johnson-Lynch said that with Texas Tech playing in a large arena (The United Supermarkets Arena, which seats over 15,000 people), the atmosphere can sometimes feel like an echo chamber.

Contrast this with a place like Northern Iowa, an intimate setting where the Cyclones played earlier this season, and it could be a challenge for the Cyclones to keep up the team’s liveliness like they want.

“Tech can be a tough place to play if you’re not ready.” Johnson-Lynch said. “We kind of have to bring our own energy.”

First serve will be at 6 p.m. Friday. The game will be broadcast locally in Lubbock on Texas Tech TV.