NOTEBOOK: Iowa State’s “Gauntlet” schedule, the Cy-Hawk matchup and Iowa State’s varied lineup

Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch talks to the press Aug. 14, 2018, during Iowa State volleyball’s media day at Hilton Coliseum.

Jack Shover

On Tuesday, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, freshman outside hitter Brooke Andersen and senior outside hitter Jess Schaben met with the media to discuss the team and the upcoming weekend.

The “Gauntlet”

In the past two weeks, Iowa State has faced four top-25 teams.

During that time, Iowa State has beaten all of the unranked opponents and one ranked opponent in the then-No. 17 Northern Iowa, but it has lost to No. 22 Utah, No. 14 Creighton and No. 7 Nebraska.

“It was a gauntlet,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Honestly I feel that these past couple [of] weeks have just been relentless, so we had to play three high-level teams and we came out one and two.”

Johnson-Lynch said she wants to get more wins against those top-tier opponents, but felt that during the weekend the team looked solid against Creighton and Wichita State, especially on offense.

Against Creighton, Iowa State ended up losing, but Andersen said there were some positive takeaways from the game and weekend.

“We definitely competed and we are definitely in the running, I think we can really compete with any good team, so with Creighton we won the first set, probably should have won the second set, so finishing has been our issue,” Andersen said.

In addition, Andersen said Nebraska was a unique experience in the atmosphere and the energy of the crowd, but said she and the team did a good job of relying on each other so the crowd didn’t get in their heads.

At this time, Iowa State has a season record of 6-4 and a record of 1-3 versus top 25 teams.

Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Matchup

“You try to approach it like another match; we prep the same way, but it will feel like more than that with all of the hype that goes with [the Cy-Hawk game],” Johnson-Lynch said.

Even with Iowa coming up, Johnson-Lynch said she doesn’t want to overlook Wyoming. Wyoming currently sits at 8-1, with wins over Colorado and Arizona State.

Andersen said she is excited for her first Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game as she grew up a huge Iowa State fan, and she expects a large amount of her family to come watch her.

New and newer lineups

As far as lineups go, Johnson-Lynch said the coaching staff is continuing to evaluate and experiment with different lineups.

Johnson-Lynch said she needs to see what each player does well, how their ballhandling is and how the chemistry is with all the different lineups. So far, that has proven difficult as it is usually around this time that the “puzzle” starts to come together.

“Every season I feel like it’s a puzzle and it’s like you think you have that last piece of the puzzle and then you are like ‘Eh maybe that isn’t it’ you got to try again,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We haven’t quite put all the pieces in the right spots yet, but every time we play we get a chance to say that worked, that didn’t work and that’s what we are doing right now.”

With so many good players, Johnson-Lynch said it can be difficult to know when she has found the right lineup.

On Monday, she said she spent two or three hours drawing up about 20 different lineups that she wants to try.

During games, both Andersen and Schaben said there is a small adjustment due to the variety of the lineups.

“It’s definitely an adjustment in the game when they switch three people at one time… So we figure it out pretty quickly which is actually pretty hard to do, but we adjust really well to situations,” Andersen said.

Schaben said she just had to embrace the changes and that she and the team settle in once the new lineup scores a couple points.

Both players said since they experiment with so many lineups in practice, they are set up to quickly adjust in games.

Johnson-Lynch said she has not settled on whether she wants setters Piper Mauck, Jenna Brandt or both to play.

Earlier this season, Johnson-Lynch said she would like to play just one setter in a 5-1 lineup, but has since said both setters are so good that Iowa State could play a 6-2 lineup either all the time or situationally with both Mauck and Brandt.