Iowa State volleyball prepares for rematch against Kansas State

Iowa State Volleyball Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch reasons with the referee after a controversial call in the fourth set. Johnson-Lynch then challenged the call, winning the Cyclones the point. 

Trevor Holbrook

The Iowa State volleyball team begins the second-half of its Big 12 round-robin schedule on Wednesday against the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan, Kansas.

After playing each conference opponent once, the Cyclones have accumulated a record of 5-3. Now, Iowa State will play each team again before postseason play begins.

“[The match against Kansas State] was one of our more dominant performances,” said freshman setter Piper Mauck. “I think everyone had a well-rounded game.”

Kansas State and Iowa State are familiar opponents with only two weeks separating the teams’ first match and this upcoming match.

The Cyclones dismantled the Wildcats in the first contest. Iowa State swept the Wildcats inside Hilton Coliseum 25-12, 25-16 and 27-25.

Two weeks after the Cyclones and Wildcats’ first match, Iowa State has gone 2-1 with wins over TCU and West Virginia, while being swept by Texas.

In those two weeks, Kansas State lost in four sets to Baylor and five sets to West Virginia.

For Wednesday’s match, it will be important to see if the Wildcats can slow down the Cyclones early on.

In the first match, the first and second set was all Iowa State. By the third set, the Wildcats had their feet underneath them, and they played the final set tough.

The delayed rally was too late for the Wildcats. If Kansas State can pounce on the Cyclones early Wednesday, Iowa State could be in trouble.

Another noteworthy point from the first match is Iowa State’s rotation. All season long, the Cyclones have tinkered with the 5-1 and 6-2. Against Kansas State, Iowa State utilized the 6-2.

The 6-2 is a formation that rotates an extra hitter and setter in, and was used in all three sets against the Wildcats.

With more rotating pieces, the 6-2 is generally a tougher formation for a team to master. It’s no guarantee that this system will be used as heavy in the second match, though.

“Our 6-2 is game-by-game. Sometimes we’ll go into a match thinking ‘Yeah, we’ll need the 6-2,’ like Texas who is so big blocking,” coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “Sometimes we get into a match and we see a need of the 6-2.”

In the Cyclones’ last match, Iowa State was cruising in the second set against TCU. With a comfortable lead, junior hitter Hannah Bailey and freshman setter Mauck checked in for the Cyclones.

“Watching the first set, you kind of just analyze [and] I watch what [Monique Harris] sets and [I] kind of see where their blockers are going,” Mauck said.

If Iowa State starts hot against Kansas State, like it did the first time, the match could provide a prime opportunity for the 6-2 to improve and build chemistry between the players.

In the first match, redshirt senior and right-side hitter Samara West was the primary offensive weapon, contributing 13 kills on .414 hitting percentage. West cooled off a bit in Iowa State’s next match against Texas, but the 6-4 right side regained her momentum in the Cyclones’ last two matches.

Last week, against West Virginia, West connected for eight kills with a .333 hitting percentage. She followed that performance up with nine kills and a scalding .692 hitting percentage.

If senior setter Monique Harris and fellow setter Mauck can get West in rhythm early in Wednesday’s match, the Cyclones could very well earn another sweep over the Wildcats.