Iowa State volleyball third in Big 12 preseason rankings


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State volleyball players celebrate after a kill against Stanford in the NCAA tournament Dec. 3, 2021.

Christian Royston

The rankings are in for the Big 12 Volleyball preseason poll, and Iowa State was close to the top of the standings at No. 3.

After being picked fifth in the 2021 Big 12 preseason poll, the Cyclones moved up two spots in 2022 after finishing last season tied for third in the conference. The team made the NCAA Tournament thanks to their standings in the Big 12, going 16-12 on the season and 8-8 in conference play.

This ranking is nothing new to the Cyclones, as they have been ranked in the top five of the preseason poll every year since 2009. This is partly due to the squad that head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch assembled and the culture she created at Iowa State.

In Johnson-Lynch’s 17 seasons at the helm, the Cyclones competed in 14 NCAA Championships. The team is currently set to return some veteran starters and introduce new faces to the mix.

The biggest losses that the Cyclones faced in the lineup were in star middle blocker Candelaria Herrera and Big 12 Libero of the Year Marija Popovic. Herrera and Popovic were All-Big 12 First Team selections in 2021, and with the added loss of veteran Avery Rhodes, the Cyclones will be looking for new faces to step up.

Many consistent players are returning for another year at Iowa State, as the team returns 12 letter winners from 2021. The biggest name is veteran Eleanor Holthaus, returning for her fifth year with the Cyclones.

Holthaus was selected to the All-Big 12 Preseason Team on Wednesday, as she looks to lead the Cyclones to another NCAA Championship appearance. The squad is also returning a handful of starters across the lineup.

Setter Jaden Newsome is returning for her second year with the team, as she came away with All-Big 12 Second Team honors in 2021. Outside hitters Annie Hatch and Kenzie Mantz and middle blocker Alexis Engelbrecht are past starters looking to keep up their production for the Cyclones.

Another familiar face that didn’t much see playtime in 2021 was Abby Greiman, a starter in 2020, before taking off most of last season due to surgery. She looks healthier than ever and plans to make a significant contribution in 2022.

Over the spring, the Cyclones were looking to fill out the lineup to make up for the production they lost after the postseason. As the season inches closer, excitement is high for what might come of the new volleyball squad.

After last season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament at Stanford’s hands, the Cyclones have been working hard in the offseason to improve in every facet of the game. 

The Cyclones ranked just below Texas and Baylor, who came into the preseason poll at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Kansas was close behind Iowa State, trailing by just one vote.