Notebook: Cyclones defeat Oklahoma Sooners

The volleyball team celebrates a win against WVU. The Cyclones swept the mountaineers in three sets. Pictured: senior Tory Knuth, junior Ciara Capezio, junior Natalie Vondrak, sophomore Samara West, sophomore Monique Harris and freshman Abby Phillips.

Brian Mozey

Practice makes perfect.

Sophomores Monique Harris and Alexis Conaway have been working on the slide attack throughout the last month. This practice led to a successful attack against Oklahoma on Saturday.

A slide attack is when the middle blocker runs around the setter as she is setting the ball behind her. The set is supposed to be in line with the blocker to create a solid kill and point for the team.

Harris had 54 assists against Oklahoma, and Conaway had a match-leading 17 kills. Oklahoma witnessed this success from Conaway and Harris in the previous matchup Sept. 30.

Iowa State traveled to Oklahoma for that matchup, and Conaway had 17 kills and Harris had 58 assists. Similar statistics and similar results. 

“[Alexis] Conaway had probably one of her best days today,” said ISU volleyball coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “She couldn’t miss any shot. I think that slide attack is working well between the two of them.”

Challenges, galore

The experimental challenge replay system was in full effect Saturday when Iowa State and Oklahoma played against each other. The match consisted of eight challenges, which caused play to slow down.

In the Big 12 experimental challenges rules, each team gets three challenges per match. If the team gets the call correct, it gets the challenge back to reuse, but an upheld challenge results in a loss of one of the team’s challenges.

Oklahoma and Iowa State used four challenges each. Out of those eight challenges, two were reversed. Harris said it’s not the referee’s fault, but rather the close match between the two teams.

There were 23 ties and eight lead changes during the match, which resulted in the coaches deliberating between every close call.

“It was a tight match,” Johnson-Lynch said. “If it’s a critical point in the set then you’ll see more challenges than if it’s a wide-open match.”

Tory Knuth shows impact

Senior middle blocker Tory Knuth had significantly more playing time Saturday against Oklahoma.

Knuth had only three kills, one assist and two block assists, but her presence on the court was impactful. Johnson-Lynch said she has seen her improve throughout the season and believed she deserved more playing time.

“[Tory Knuth] is a great blocker, an elite blocker,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Last year at this same time, she started to come on and had more pop in her arm.”

The team will need her blocking ability and presence on the court throughout the next few weeks. Iowa State will play Texas Christian, Kansas State and Texas before Thanksgiving break, and Knuth will need to show her blocking dominance.

Johnson-Lynch hopes to use Knuth more in the last part of the season, especially next weekend when the Cyclones play at TCU. Iowa State will take on TCU at noon Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.