Iowa State volleyball looks to finish strong on the road against TCU

Player Samara West spiked the ball onto the North Dakota’s court, winning another point for Iowa State at the women’s volleyball game on October 30th.

Trevor Holbrook

With the quantity of regular season matches dwindling for Iowa State volleyball, the final two matches mark an essential part of the season for the Cyclones.

Iowa State travels to Fort Worth, Texas, to battle the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday. With only two matches remaining, Iowa State’s coach Christy Johnson-Lynch still wants to see improvements out of her team.

“I think going on the road in particular and playing well, playing at a high level,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Our serving and passing, we want to keep getting better at that.”

Iowa State cruised to a sweep when the Horned Frogs strolled into Hilton Coliseum about a month ago. The experienced players specifically dominated TCU.

Iowa State failed to have a player record double-digit kills, but the Cyclones attacked with a committee.

Seniors Alexis Conaway and Samara West each chipped in nine kills, while juniors Jess Schaben and Grace Lazard pitched in a combined 13 kills. Even senior setter Monique Harris got in on the offensive party, adding two kills on three attempts.

The offense wasn’t the only side dominating TCU in the first match. TCU’s hitting percentage slumped to -.043, and the Horned Frogs only had one block compared to Iowa State’s 14.

The Horned Frogs have struggled this season, posting an 11-15 record paired with a 3-11 Big 12 record. Even with TCU’s inadequate record, the Horned Frogs shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Cyclones traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, for a match on Wednesday, returning to Ames after their match and then being forced to travel south again for Saturday’s match.

Along with the numerous miles of flight, the athletes are still students and are required to attend school while classes are ramping up in difficulty as they approach the end of the semester.

“I can deal with [traveling] pretty well,” said freshman defensive specialist Izzy Enna. “It’s just catching up with school and being on top of things. Just mentally [I have] to be tough about it.”

So while the TCU match may look like an easy match on paper, all these factors lumped together could brew for a sluggish match for the Cyclones.

“It’s pretty difficult [to have two road matches],” said redshirt sophomore libero Hali Hillegas. “It’ll be longer days and then you have to have the mindset of ‘alright, after we sit here for five hours we’ve got to go play.’ You just have to be ready.”

If the Horned Frogs seize the opportunity to pounce on a potentially fatigued Iowa State team, TCU will need production from multiple players.

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Abigail Buckingham has recently solidified herself as a viable offensive weapon for the Horned Frogs.

On Nov. 11 against Kansas State, Buckingham rattled off a team-high 16 kills, leading TCU to a five-set win.

Buckingham has only played in about 66 percent of TCU’s sets this year, but the 6-foot-1 hitter has accumulated 177 kills with an average of 3.00 kills per set.

Buckingham will tag along with junior middle blocker Anna Walsh. Walsh, a Virginia transfer, is the heart and soul of the TCU volleyball team.

Walsh is one of two Horned Frog players to play in all of TCU’s sets this season. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker leads TCU in blocks (92), kills (248) and hitting percentage (.310).

The Horned Frogs have consistently received production from Walsh and Buckingham recently, but TCU needs another player to step up if the Horned Frogs hope to knock off the Cyclones.