Iowa State took the floor against in-state rivals Drake Thursday night, but Hilton Coliseum belonged to the Cyclones and specifically, Jess Schaben.
After learning that Iowa State would not be going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years, Schaben and the two other seniors for Iowa State made it clear their season would not end with negative news like that.
The Cyclones were invited to the NIVC (National Invitational Volleyball Championship) and the team didn't take long to decide on accepting the invitation.
"I didn't want to end," Schaben said. "I wanted to keep playing because I love this team."
Schaben and the rest of the Cyclones faced off against Drake in the first round of the NIVC Thursday night in Hilton Coliseum.
Schaben wasn't going to allow her career to end when first serve tipped-off.
"You never know when your last chance to play is, so every time I get a chance to play I want to make it the best," Schaben said. "
Schaben hit for eight kills and a .778 hitting percentage in the first set, five more than anyone else on the Cyclones. Her kills in the first set sparked a loud and aggressive 5-0 scoring run for Iowa State.
"[Schaben] was having to do everything for us those first two sets, and toward the end of the match she was slowing down but we needed her early," coach Johnson-Lynch said. "She continued to play like she was on a mission."
Schaben continued to rack up kills in the second set, and they seemed to come when the Cyclones were looking for something to gain energy off of.
Iowa State took a 3-2 lead in the second set when Drake grabbed all the energy out of Hilton Coliseum for a short period of time. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 5-0 run but luckily for the Cyclones, Schaben was there.
Schaben slammed a kill home and stopped the Bulldog run.
Unlike the first set, the second saw plenty of back-and-forth scores. Both teams played with many errors and miscommunications on who was responsible for certain stretches.
Iowa State found itself down 14-9 down the stretch of the set but there was Schaben once again, taking back the momentum with another kill to bring the crowd back.
Throughout the second set one theme became very clear. Drake was rattled by the power Schaben was dishing out in her kills.
Schaben took to the back-row on multiple occasions in the set and when she arose from the depths of the back-row, Drake couldn't handle her kills.
Over three times throughout the set, Schaben would take the high-rising set from one of her teammates and fire a rocket into the heart of the Bulldog's formation.
Her kills bouncing off bodies and even faces, soaring into the third row of the stands.
Schaben ended with a team-best 18 kills on a .338 hitting percentage.
"Her back-row attack is probably one of the best I've seen in the country, it's pretty special," Johnson-Lynch said of her senior-outside hitter.
Schaben and the rest of the Cyclones take on Bradley in the second round of the NIVC tomorrow night in Hilton Coliseum.