Iowa State heads into big weekend trying to fix a major weakness

The Cyclones and the Panthers face off on their Sep. 12 game at Hilton Coliseum.

Trevor Holbrook

Before this week, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said that this week would be a tough challenge for the Cyclones.

Northern Iowa confirmed Johnson-Lynch’s statement, defeating Iowa State in five sets. The weekend presents two more difficult matches for Iowa State.

Northern Iowa dominated in transition points throughout the match. After the match, Johnson-Lynch talked about her team’s problems with transition offense still needing resolved.

“We’ve known it’s a problem, but there just hasn’t been a whole lot of time to address it,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’ll have a little time here before the weekend.”

The Cyclones will travel to Wichita, Kansas to battle the No. 8 Creighton Bluejays. On Sunday, the competition remains tough for Iowa State, squaring off against Wichita State.

Creighton is a well-tested team, facing four ranked opponents early in the season. The Bluejays went 2-2 in those matches.

The first ranked opponent Creighton played was no. 13 Kentucky. The Bluejays dismantled Kentucky, sweeping the Wildcats in three sets.

Creighton has faced one Big 12 team in the regular season, knocking off No. 7 Kansas in three sets. Against No. 17 Purdue, Creighton lost 3-1; the Bluejays were also swept by No. 18 Southern California.

The scrappy Northern Iowa team that took down the Cyclones played Creighton almost two weeks ago. Creighton utilized a balanced attack and cruised to a sweep.

Creighton has three hitters with 90 or more kills on the season: Jaali Winters (101), Taryn Kloth (90) and Marysa Wilkinson (90). The height of the Bluejays combined with their three playmakers could challenge the Iowa State defense.

Wichita State isn’t ranked, but it’s no slouch either. The Shockers received votes in this week’s AVCA coaches poll, barely missing the top 25.

Wichita State stormed out to a 7-0 start, but stumbled last weekend in the Nike Classic. The Shockers started the tournament out successfully, sweeping Duquesne.

The second match of the Nike Classic matched the Shockers with No. 14 Oregon. Oregon was too much for Wichita State, dominating the Shockers in three sets.

The final match for Wichita State in the tournament featured the Shockers and Cal Poly. Cal Poly outlasted Wichita State, snagging a victory in the last set.

The Shockers, like Creighton, have three primary offensive weapons.

Junior hitter Tabitha Brown and her 132 kills headlines the group. Redshirt-freshman hitter Abbie Lehman and senior hitter Mikaela Raudsepp also have 69 or more kills.

Iowa State senior blocker Alexis Conaway was disappointed in the outcome of the Northern Iowa match, but the veteran is looking to forget about it before the weekend tournament.

“We still have a really big weekend coming up, so we could either let it get to us or use it as motivation to work hard,” Conaway said.

Iowa State’s achilles’ heel against Northern Iowa was its transition offense. After the loss, Johnson-Lynch said that the Cyclones could mix it up to assist with the weakness.

“I think we can find some different ways to use our middles [to help with transition points],” Johnson-Lynch said. “I definitely think that can get a lot better.”