NOTEBOOK: Johnson-Lynch finds comfort in NCAA tournament venue


Sam Greene/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore outside hitter Ciara Capezio hits a spike over the net in a game against Kansas State on Nov. 5 at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State defeated Kansas State in three close sets and showcased a new offensive strategy that yielded results, according to Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

Harrison March

Christy Johnson-Lynch has a routine for the ISU volleyball team. She sticks to it and it works — her 208 wins in 10 seasons at the helm can attest to that.

When it comes to road trips, the procedure starts by boarding the team bus at least one day before the match. The Cyclones always pull into town the night before the battle to get comfortable behind enemy lines.

Though it may seem like she just wants her team to see what the arena is like, she actually has quite a technical reason.

“Serving and passing is such a key part of volleyball and a big part of that is the gym that you play in, the balls that you play with, the air — that feeling,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Any time you can spend more time in an opponent’s gym, the more comfortable you’re going to feel serving and passing.”

This time around, the destination is Champaign, Ill., for round one of the NCAA tournament. While the first match the Cyclones play will be against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, a second-round showdown with host-team Illinois could loom if the Illini take care of Murray State.

Fortunately for Iowa State, Illinois’s home court at Huff Hall is not uncharted territory.

The Cyclones traveled to face the Illini twice in the fall of 2012 with a team that half of the current ISU team was a part of. Combine that with Johnson-Lynch’s experience against Illinois from her years as an assistant coach at Wisconsin, and Huff Hall may actually be among one of Johnson-Lynch’s most familiar road venues.

“I feel very comfortable there, I think,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I coached in the Big 10 for a long time so [I’m] very much familiar with Illinois and what they do well in that gym… So I think there’s a comfortableness to playing at Illinois and [potentially] playing that team.”