Volleyball prepares for nonconference foe amid Big 12 play


Brian Mozey/Iowa State Daily

On Oct. 12, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Morgan Kuhrt hits the ball directly into the Oklahoma blockers. Kuhrt was a key asset to the win with 21 kills, a career high. 

Harrison March

The Big 12 volleyball season is in full swing, with each team having faced at least half of its conference foes. On Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., however, the ISU volleyball team will head outside of Big 12 country for a trip 200 miles northwest to the University of South Dakota.

The Cyclones (9-6, 2-3 Big 12) will square off against the Coyotes (12-7, 6-1 Summit League) in the middle of conference play for the second straight year. Last year in Ames, Iowa State swept South Dakota.

On what would have otherwise been a bye week for the Cyclones, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said this match fit into Iowa State’s schedule rather well.

“I typically like to schedule at least one match on a bye week, and we didn’t have a match [Oct. 8], so [the USD match] fell on that and worked great,” Johnson-Lynch said. “They’ve been here so we owed them a return.”

Working in the nonconference opponent instead of taking a week off is a benefit for the Cyclones, said outside hitter Morgan Kuhrt.

“I think it’ll be a nice change,” Kuhrt said. “[It’s] more competition — just another chance to get better and work on some stuff.”

South Dakota will not be a cupcake team scheduled to give Iowa State a mid-season break or an easy confidence boost. The Coyotes are ranked No. 62 of 334 teams in the latest Rating Percentage Index poll and have won 9-of-11 games, including all three at home.

Picking up a road win against a quality team will go a long way toward boosting Iowa State’s public perception, especially come NCAA tournament time, while also keeping the Cyclones fresh as Big 12 play rolls along afterward.

“You need these [matches],” Johnson-Lynch said. “Sometimes for RPI, sometimes just to feel like you keep playing, and you’re not getting rusty because you haven’t played forever.”

Coming off an emotional win Oct. 12 against Oklahoma, Iowa State won’t have much time to prepare. Luckily for them, the Coyotes are also in for a quick turnaround after an Oct. 12 match.

Though it will be important for Iowa State to keep that win in perspective, middle blocker Samara West said the excitement and energy from that match can be used to the Cyclones’ advantage.

Aside from providing the Cyclones with a chance for another nonconference road win to pad the resume, Johnson-Lynch has a chance to win her 200th match as head coach of the ISU volleyball team.

“It’s awesome,” said libero Caitlin Nolan. “She’s the greatest coach I’ve ever had. You’re just happy for her.”

In order to hit that milestone, however, the Cyclones cannot afford to overlook the Coyotes. Iowa State knows what needs to be done to get its first winning streak since before Big 12 play began. Now, it’s just a matter of execution.

“We absolutely won’t be looking past them. In fact, we already talked about it in our [postgame] huddle,” Johnson-Lynch said. “They’re good. We’re playing them at [their] home … We’ll prepare very, very hard for them and try to be as ready as we possibly can be.”

The Cyclones will take on the Coyotes at 7 p.m Oct. 14 in Vermillion, S.D. at the DakotaDome.