Iowa State volleyball hosts Baylor

Jess Schaben, outside hitter, goes to hit the ball towards Syracuse during the Sept. 16 game in Hilton Coliseum.

Spencer Suckow

After getting back on track with a win over West Virginia in its Big 12 Conference opener, Iowa State volleyball will face a tough test at home Saturday against No. 19 Baylor.

Coming into the season, the Bears were one of only two teams in the Big 12 (the other being Texas) that were picked to finish above Iowa State in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll. The team started the season as the No. 16 team in the country, and climbed to as high as No. 12 after a 4-0 start to the season.

Since that start, however, things have been pretty up-and-down for Baylor. Big wins for the Bears, such as when they swept Virginia Tech took down No. 2 Wisconsin at home, have also coincided with head scratching losses, like when they lost to University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in five sets.

In a way, the Bears are a lot like Iowa State in the sense that they’re a talented team whose record has perhaps fallen victim to a tough early season slate. Iowa State coach Christy Johnson-Lynch is certainly aware Baylor’s talent, and she anticipates another tough matchup as a result.

“Baylor’s very good,” Johnson-Lynch said. “They’ve had a nice preseason, but they’re vulnerable in spots, too.”

In their last games since starting 4-0, the Bears are 4-4 and most recently lost to Texas Tech on Wednesday in their conference opener.

Johnson-Lynch didn’t elaborate specifically on which spots she thinks the Bears are vulnerable, but it is worth pointing out that Baylor has really struggled with their hitting percentage in recent losses. Against Texas Tech and UT-RGV, the Bears had hitting percentages of .151% and .178 %, respectively.

Any sign of vulnerability from Baylor would be a welcome sight for the Cyclones, who’ve dropped their last three against the Bears and haven’t defeated them since November of 2016. Last season, Iowa State was swept in both matches against Baylor.

“That’ll be a big one for us,” said senior Jess Schaben of the upcoming match. “Baylor is obviously a really good team. That’d be a really good win.”

Iowa State will have the luxury of being at home for the match, however the Cyclones have yet to establish a home court advantage this season. In five home games, the Cyclones are only 2-3, and the team dropped two home matches just this past weekend.

What the Cyclones do have going for them, however, is the fact that the team has finally gotten some much-needed practice time. With preseason tournaments wrapped up, the team now has the ability to practice in-between games and make corrections or adjustments, something Iowa State wasn’t able to do before.

The Cyclones now believe that with these chances for adjustments and a normal schedule going forward, that the team’s talent can start to shine through. Add that in with high-level competition they faced in the early season, and the Cyclones believe that the team is ready to start making a run.

“Our preseason has prepared us for anyone,” Schaben said. “We’ve played so many to-25 teams that we’re ready for it all.”

The game will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum, right after Iowa State’s football game against Akron.