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Iowa State Daily

Big things lie ahead for Iowa State volleyball in spring season

Daniel Jacobi II
Iowa State’s Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch talks to the team behind a folder during the game against Iowa in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, at the Xtreme Arena in Coralville, Iowa.

AMES — Christy Johnson-Lynch will return as Iowa State’s head volleyball coach for the 2024 season. She signed a five-year contract extension Feb. 7 to continue to lead the Cyclones.

Johnson-Lynch will enter her 20th season as head coach of Cyclone volleyball as she tries to continue her successful career as coach.

For Johnson-Lynch, the decision to return was an easy one. The factors she had to weigh heavily sided with staying in Ames to continue to lead and build the program she has been around for a while.

“I love it here,” Johnson-Lynch said. “When you’ve got kind of that combination of a place you love for your family, a place that you love to coach that you feel well supported at, it’s not really much of a decision.”

The team will have a new place to prepare and practice soon. In February, Iowa State announced the McKee Volleyball Center, which will serve as the training and practice facility for the team. The facility is expected to be completed in 2025 according to the original announcement.

In Johnson-Lynch’s with Iowa State, she has led the Cyclones to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIVC championship in 2018. She is the winningest coach in Iowa State volleyball history with a 370-201 record and is 203-104 in Big 12 play.

Last season, Iowa State made the NCAA Tournament but was eliminated in the first round at the hands of Hawaii. The Cyclones went 20-10 and finished fourth in the Big 12.

“It was another really good season,” Johnson-Lynch said. “With a really young team, I just thought they really showed a lot of resilience throughout the season.”

This season, Johnson-Lynch will try to take her young team back to the big dance and build off the foundation of the 2023 season.

“I just think we’re going to keep going up from where we are right now,” outside hitter Maya Duckworth said about Johnson-Lynch returning.

Iowa State finished in the top-10 in the country in attendance for 2023. Johnson-Lynch said the support of Cyclone fans was another reason she loved coaching at Iowa State.

“I don’t take for granted what we have here,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Volleyball is so well supported here.”

Standout freshman Nayeli Gonzalez expressed delight knowing that Johnson-Lynch would return. Gonzalez led the Cyclones with 348 kills in the freshman campaign, with Duckworth right behind with 316 in a sophomore season.

“She’s been a great leader,” Gonzalez said. “She’s been there when I’m down. If I need something like one-on-one, she’ll help me. She’s just such a calm presence.”

Iowa State will have one senior next season, which leaves a young group that Johnson-Lynch can work with for a few seasons. Younger players such as Gonzalez may find themselves in larger leadership roles sooner rather than later.

“We’re all very young, and somebody’s going to have to step up,” Gonzalez said. “Being able to work with [Johnson-Lynch] as we’re young and growing up, and everything she’s telling us and getting better with her will definitely help.”

The first big test for the team will come March 30, when Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa come to town for the Iowa State Spring Tournament. It will serve as a measuring point to see how the new players perform and what they bring to the team.

The Cyclones will start the tournament at 10 a.m. against Drake, then they will face UNI at 11:15 a.m. and finally Iowa at 1:30 p.m. All matches are open to the public and are free to attend.

The remaining spring schedule consists of road contests against Minnesota on April 5 and Omaha on April 19. Both matches start at 7:30 p.m. and are open to the public. Another home match is scheduled for April 13 against Creighton but is closed to the public.

With the experience of Johnson-Lynch, a team to grow into the next couple of seasons and a new volleyball center, the future of Iowa State volleyball looks bright.

“I hope that just the length of time I’ve been doing this and kind of what I’ve seen and learned over the years helps me help them,” Johnson-Lynch said.

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