Athletics are in Tory Knuth’s genes


Sophomore Monique Harris (8) sets the ball for redshirt senior Tory Knuth (12) during their match against North Dakota on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones defeated the Fighting Sioux, 3-1.

Garrett Kroeger

Athleticism runs in her blood.

Redshirt senior Tory Knuth looks like the prototypical middle blocker a volleyball team craves. She stands 6-feet-3 and has long arms, something she can credit to her genetic make-up.

Tory is the second daughter of Jim and Dawn Knuth, both of whom played Division I sports while in college.

Her dad, Jim, played wide receiver and tight end at Iowa State from 1979-82. Dawn, her mother, played basketball at Drake from 1980-84.

“[Mom and Dad] playing college sports really made me want to play Division I athletics,” Knuth said. “I put some pressure on myself to be as good as them.”

Growing up with Division I athletes as parents, Knuth always played a cut above the rest of her peers, playing against older players throughout her youth.

And while playing in a higher competition class, Tory would have the opportunity to play with her older sister, Taylor.

Taylor is two years older than Tory and is the oldest of the Knuth children. Playing sports with Taylor would give Tory an extra motivation to perform.

“We would have a friendly-sibling rivalry,” Knuth said. “We would always compete to outperform the other.”

Playing with Taylor went beyond just playing on the same recreation or club teams, as Tory and her sister would play sports together for two years at Johnston High School.

During that two year span, Tory and Taylor would dominate the volleyball scene in Iowa.

In 2007, their first year of playing on the Johnston volleyball team together, Tory and Taylor went on to win the Iowa High School State Volleyball Championship. The next year, they made a trip back to the state tournament — but they fell just short of a second consecutive title, losing in the championship game.

After the 2008 season, Taylor continued on to further her career at Iowa State while Tory was still at Johnston.

“It was a lot of fun playing with her in high school,” Tory said. “But it was also fun showing what I can do.”

During Tory’s junior year of high school, she was voted as the Des Moines Register 2010 Volleyball Player of the Year. Then during her senior year, she was placed on the Under Armour All-American Watch List and was a top-50 volleyball recruit. Tory also finished her high school career as an all-conference selection all four years.

Once it finally came time for Tory to announce where she was taking her talents, she knew exactly where she wanted to attend.

“It is close to home and also having the opportunity to play with my sister once again were big factors in me picking Iowa State,” Tory said.

Tory redshirted her first year attending Iowa State, leaving her one more year to play competitively with her sister. That next year, the two helped contribute to the Cyclones’ run to the NCAA Regional Semifinal, where they fell to Stanford in three sets.

This second time around, the road had more bumps for Tory after Taylor departed from the team.

Knuth experienced several ankle sprains that would hold her out of the starting lineup and even had to have surgery on her shoulder during her redshirt junior year.

But her journey growing up in a family full of Division I athletes and playing volleyball at high level have taught her some lessons, which she tries to pass on.

“I get freshmen asking about how to deal with volleyball and school work, how did redshirting go during freshman year and what not,” Knuth said. “I am happy to help them.”