Notebook: Cyclones work on Achilles’ heel, Swiss Army Knife after losses


Collin Magurie/ Iowa State Daily

Michal Schuler in the Iowa State volleyball game versus Kansas on Oct. 2.

Jack Shover

With no game for the Cyclones on Wednesday, Iowa State had the opportunity to take some extra time to focus on fundamentals after a loss to Oklahoma Saturday.

In the wake of the loss, the Cyclones have been working on identifying what has been going wrong in the team’s losses and a utilitarian player has been slated into the back row permanently.

Tough serving has been Cyclones’ Achilles’ heel

In Iowa State’s last several losses, tough serving has been a contributor to losing efforts and Iowa State’s 3-1 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday is no exception according to coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

Setter Piper Mauck said it was noticeable the team faced a few times against the Sooners, who had a total of 10 service aces.

“I think it was just kind of a wake up call, I mean the Big 12’s a good conference and you can’t ever just relax and think that you have it in the bag,” Mauck said.

Moving forward, the Cyclones have been working to scout opposing servers, who often provide a different server than the Cyclones’ own players in practice.

For instance, Mauck mentioned top-spin servers.

If Iowa State is able to handle tough serves, the team’s offense will have a better chance of getting started.

Michal Schuler said the teams offense all starts with a good pass to Mauck, which then results in a good set and then a better opportunity for the hitters to get a kill.

Earlier in the season, Johnson-Lynch said Mauck is really good setting off of the net — but she needs to improve setting when she is forced off of the net.

If Mauck is able to stay on the net for the majority of the match, she will be able to stay in her comfort zone and will provide better passes for Iowa State hitter’s.

Iowa State’s Swiss Army Knife

Beginning the Cyclones’ season, one could find Schuler with the likes of Annie Hatch and Josie Herbst during warmups in hitting lines.

Schuler’s role has taken a 180 degree turn and has even resulted in a different colored jersey for Schuler.

Schuler has displayed the ability to play a multitude of positions from outside hitter to libero, which has led to the Iowa State coaching staff struggling where to exactly put the freshman.

I keep wanting to look at her as a hitter, but its hard if she’s not on the court as a hitter she’s got to be out there somehow as a passer, defender, so we keep trying to figure out how best to use her,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Johnson-Lynch said it is a good problem to have a player as talented as Schuler, but it is difficult to find out how to invest Schuler’s time on the court and in practice.

This season though, Johnson-Lynch said Schuler will be asked to use her passing and digging skills in the back row to serve as the teams libero or a defensive specialist.

Aside from her athleticism to play back and front row, it is remarkable that Schuler has never played libero before this season.

“At first it was kind of scary, just like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ actually, but I just kind of refocused my mind and just get every ball up,” Schuler said.

Compared to the front row, Schuler said there is much more pressure since she is always in at libero and you always have to be consistent with passing.

No matter what position or jersey she is wearing, Schuler has established herself as a do-it all player early in her career for the Cyclones.