Iowa State shows statement in first round match win

ISU redshirt junior outside hitter Morgan Kuhrt watches for the ball during the game against Texas Sat. night. The No. 14 Cyclones would go on to lose to the No. 3 ranked Longhorns 0-3. 

Brian Mozey

Madison, Wisc. — Monique Harris threw the ball up into the air and, with one hit, it was match point for Iowa State. Just moments later, Harris served up an ace and a sweep for the ISU volleyball team. 

Iowa State (19-10, 11-5 Big 12) swept Miami (21-10, 14-6 ACC) on Thursday night — 25-21, 26-24, 25-20 — to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones’ game plan focused on serving and playing effective defense against Miami. That mission was accomplished and provided a statement for future teams that play Iowa State. 

“I thought this was a great way to come out and open up the tournament,” said outside hitter Morgan Kuhrt. “We didn’t know what to expect from Miami, but I think we just took care of our side of the court.”

The Cyclones had eight serving aces, much to the happiness of head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, who stressed the importance of serving before the game. 

Johnson-Lynch said the aces forced Miami off its rhythm and improved the Cyclones’ tempo. The other factors were the team’s digs and blocking throughout the entire match. 

Iowa State recorded 48 digs and seven blocks against Miami’s well-known outside hitters. This match was going to come down to Miami’s offense and Iowa State’s defense. Iowa State’s defense won the battle tonight in a strong fashion. 

“When we scouted [Miami], we noticed that they take aggressive swings no matter what,” Johnson-Lynch said. “My concern was that they just keep coming, and I didn’t know how we would hold up to that, but we did a really good job.”

Going into the match, Miami and Iowa State were comparable in the Rating Percentage Index rankings, meaning it was an even match on paper. Johnson-Lynch agreed that the Cyclones showed a statement against Miami, and the team will carry it over into Friday night’s second-round match. 

Iowa State will play No. 4 Wisconsin in the second-round match, which will take place in Madison, Wisc., at 8 p.m. Friday night. 

As for the second-round match, Johnson-Lynch had already scouted out the two teams in case Iowa State won its first match. The coaches have been looking at film over the week to prepare. 

“I’ve been thinking about [the second round] all week,” Johnson-Lynch said. “My experience, and I’ve learned from doing it the wrong way and the right way, is to do your homework as much as you can before you get here.”

For players like senior libero Caitlin Nolan, the team should be prepared no matter what. If the Cyclones have made it this far by playing their game, then they shouldn’t be doing anything different for the tournament. 

“We will definitely celebrate this win tonight, but we’ll also be scouting the team tonight,” Nolan said. “Like [Johnson-Lynch] said, it’s on us, and if we play hard for as long as we can, that’ll really show.” 

The night ended for Iowa State with Nolan and Kuhrt running out of the media room giving high fives to friends and family. They then ran down the hallway to a bunch of screaming teammates with smiles on their faces.