Iowa State tries to improve its offense heading into match against No. 6 Texas


Jackie Norman/ Iowa State Daily

The Cyclones rushes the court as the cyclones score the game winning point. Iowa State beat the Texas Longhorns 3-2 on Nov. 12.

Garrett Kroeger

The No. 23 Iowa State volleyball team knows that the No. 6 Texas Longhorns are beatable.

The Cyclones upended the Longhorns last time they faced one another, in 2016, in five sets at Hilton Coliseum. However, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch has never defeated Texas on the road and Iowa State travels down to the burnt orange country this Saturday.

“Really hard,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We have been very close, several five setters. It’s a great environment. The crowd, they have a nice attendance, they are down on the court. It’s hostile for sure.”

So far this season, Iowa State has struggled to find consistency on offense. The Cyclones are either on point or struggling to get a kill. Come Saturday at Gregory Gymnasium, Iowa State will need to find that offensive stability against Texas.

On the year, the Longhorns have been one of the best defensive teams in the country. They are No. 8 in opponent hitting percentage, only allowing .147, and No. 1 in blocks per set at 3.44. The Cyclones are barely in the top-100 in hitting percentage at .225.

“They have a lot of tall and physical girls,” said libero Hali Hillegas.

Texas has two of the best blockers in Chiaka Ogbogu and Morgan Johnson. Both of them are in the top-25 in blocks per set at 1.63 (No. 4 in the nation) and 1.47 (No. 21 in the nation), respectively.

Due to the offensive struggles and the Longhorns being such a dominant defensive squad, Iowa State has been working on finding new options and adding new wrinkles to its offense.

“We have been working on different plays, trying to be more creative,” Johnson-Lynch said. “In case something doesn’t work, we can go to something else.”

Heading into the match, the Cyclones are trying to find more options.

Typically, Iowa State has relied on either Samara West, Jess Schaben or Alexis Conaway, but not altogether in one match. Usually one of those three dominates the offense for the Cyclones.

“I think we have been trying the same thing, let’s try to get better at it approach,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We don’t have a great plan B or plan C right now. So, that’s what we’ve been working on over the past few days.”

In last year’s win over Texas, Iowa State’s offense was not stagnant like it is today. The Cyclones recorded a .239 in that match and their defense was superb, which is the case this year.

While Iowa State is focused on improving its offense, it is zoned in on playing its game.

“I think we have to play our game,” Hillegas said. “We cannot focus on everything else. We have to focus on what we can do as a team and just build up an on game and by there for one another.”

When the Cyclones take the court against the Longhorns, they know what they will be facing. They will be facing a dominant defensive and overall team.

Texas was named the preseason favorite to win the conference, and will play in front of a hostile crowd. But if Iowa State goes in with a winning mindset, it believes it can push Texas to its limits.

“So just having the mindset that anyone can beat anybody in the Big 12 and just go after it,” Hillegas said.