With a conference record of 4-4, Iowa State’s destiny for the postseason could be dictated by the Cyclones’ game against a new-look TCU team on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the road.
The Cyclones beat TCU earlier in the season in a 3-0 sweep, but the Horned Frogs’ best player, Elan McCall, was out with injury. Iowa State has also been struggling on offense and defense when a play is out of system.
McCall was an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American last season as an outside hitter, but she has missed much of this season due to injury.
After coming back at outside hitter for TCU’s last two games, McCall has recorded hitting percentages of -.167 and .143.
Iowa State’s Brooke Andersen said the Cyclones have emphasized blocking her when the two teams meet Wednesday.
To improve the block, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said the Cyclones’ pin blockers — the players on either side of the middle blocker — need to improve on picking better spots to set up the block.
Iowa State could take a hit if middle blocker Avery Rhodes is forced to miss any time. Rhodes was in a walking boot at the team’s practice on Monday, but Johnson-Lynch said she is expected to still play on Wednesday.
Rhodes leads all players in block with 89. The next highest player, Eleanor Holthaus, has 64.
Johnson-Lynch said Rhodes has been dealing with shin pain, so the team will reduce the amount of jumping she will partake in in practice and warmups leading up to the game Wednesday.
Outside of the block, the team has focused on other issues on defense.
“I think out of system balls kind of make us struggle even defensive wise, deep balls are pretty tough for us, so I think just picking up our block and ‘D’ is going to be key,” Izzy Enna said.
Johnson-Lynch said the team has had a concern about opposing team’s hitting percentages being too high and she has decided to have back row players Michal Schuler and Enna play in assigned spots every play.
Enna will take back left and Schuler will take the middle spot.
Along with defense, Iowa State’s out-of-system offense has been a point of emphasis for the Cyclones this week.
“Volleyball is a lot of out-of-system, so we want them to feel like they’re very comfortable there,” Johnson-Lynch said.
Andersen said the team needs to maintain its pace of play out of system and avoiding going into a slow pace of play.
With eight games left on the schedule for the Cyclones, Enna said the team has had ups and downs, but she feels confident for the rest of the season. But if the Cyclones want to finish the conference with a winning record, it will be the work of the team’s defense.
“It’s going to take a lot of our defense and I feel like we’ve been stressing on it all season and I think if we pick that up and our blocking goes well I think we’ll be flying high by the end of the conference,” Enna said.
Iowa State is fourth in the conference behind Oklahoma, which has a 6-2 record.
If the Cyclones want to finish the season with a winning record, it all begins against TCU’s revamped team on Wednesday.