Samara West has one last typical performance on senior day against Texas Tech


Maddie Leopardo/Iowa State Daily

Middle blocker Samara West and outside hitter Alexis Conaway celebrate after a kill by Conaway in the first set on Nov. 2. The Cyclones went on to beat West Virginia 3-0. 

Garrett Kroeger

Iowa State volleyball fans and players have gotten used to right side hitter Samara West’s big smile throughout her time in Ames.

On Saturday afternoon, West took the Hilton Coliseum court with her patent bright smile. However, underneath that smile, West had mixed emotions taking the court. She felt a sense of happiness mixed in with a bit of sadness. But all those feelings didn’t hit her until the end of the match.

The Cyclones took on and swept the Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-20, 25-20, 25-15) in the final regular season match of the year. That meant it was senior day for West and the rest of the senior group, which is comprised of Alexis Conaway, Genesis Miranda and Monique Harris.

Despite the contest against Texas Tech being West’s last match in front of Iowa State’s home crowd, she treated the fans in attendance to one last typical Samara West performance.

“It’s almost like [West] is so good every night, you kind of take it for granted,” said coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

Against the Red Raiders, West tallied 10 kills with a .381 hitting percentage. For most right side hitters around the country, that would be a career night. But not for West, who puts those type of numbers up regularly.

“She just has put up good numbers night after night,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She is just a really solid player for us. Just so consistent. We know we can count on her every time.”

Iowa State will continue to have more chances to rely on West this season because with the win over Texas Tech, that gave the Cyclones an overall record of 21-6 and 11-5 in Big 12 play. With those two records, it appears an almost guarantee that Iowa State will make its 12th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Although the Cyclones are seen as lock to make the field, they are not a lock to host an opening round at Hilton Coliseum.

The top 16 seeds in the tournament will have the opportunity to host the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. And Iowa State still has the chance to host, but those odds are slim. However, the win over Texas Tech gives them an extra boost to potentially host.

“It was key for our chances of hosting,” Johnson-Lynch said on Saturday’s win. “I don’t know if we will host or not. Nobody knows until [Sunday night, Nov. 26]. But we wanted to give ourselves every possible chance and the only way to do that, especially with those road games that we’ve had the past couple weeks, we had to beat the teams we were supposed to beat.”

Claiming those “this should easily be an Iowa State win” wins is hard sometimes. But the Cyclones did it on Saturday, even though Johnson-Lynch felt like the pressure could have easily shown on her team due to the importance of the match.

Between now and the NCAA Tournament, Iowa State will be focusing on cleaning up almost every aspect of its game. Tuning up its serve and pass, while polishing its ball handling will be the emphasized during practice this upcoming week.

While West still knows she has a few more matches remaining in her career, and even possibly a few more in Hilton, as of right now, she will miss playing in front of the home Iowa State crowd.

“I’ll definitely miss playing here,” West said. “Just the fans are amazing and I just love Iowa State. Just the team, the former teammates and the teammates I have now. It’s just going to be hard leaving them.”

“I’ve definitely had a great journey here at Iowa State.”

But for now, West will be flaunting her signature smile with the rest of her teammates because she and Iowa State still have a few more matches left this season. And West expects the Cyclones to go far.