The Iowa State Cyclones came out on top in their exhibition against the No. 18 Creighton Bluejays, but now their focus has shifted to the regular season at full strength.
Iowa State started last season with a 6-2 record but hit a rough patch in September and in the first couple of days of October, which saw them go 3-8 in that stretch.
The Cyclones finished the season with a 21-13 record (9-7 Big 12) and missed out the NCAA tournament, but they did win the 2018 National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
Looking back before moving forward
Iowa State got off on the right foot by winning its exhibition game against the Bluejays 3-2 in Ames.
“We all played well together, we didn’t let any points get us down and we kept on fighting,” said senior outside hitter Josie Herbst. “They are always a super tough team, so to take three out of five sets against them has left us with a really good feeling.”
In the exhibition game, the Cyclones won the first three sets (26-24, 25-19 and 25-21), which in the regular season would mean they would have won the match 3-0. But since it was an exhibition game, both teams agreed to play five sets no matter what.
“It was a really good first match; we saw some good things,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “Our block and defense were really good.”
Oxford, Mississippi, is the first destination as the Cyclones will take on the Central Florida Knights at 3 p.m. on Friday and the Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Last season, Iowa State beat Ole Miss in the regular-season opener in Ames, 3-0.
Avery Rhodes back at full strength
Last season redshirt sophomore middle blocker Avery Rhodes played in the first nine matches of the season and played in 30 sets for the Cyclones.
However, Rhodes season was cut short after the third week of the season due to a recurring hip injury.
Rhodes, a Waco, Texas native, appears to be at full strength and is back in Iowa State’s starting rotation.
“She looks 100% right now, she’s jumping as well as, if not better than, she was as a freshman,” Johnson-Lynch said.
In her nine games played last season, Rhodes had 59 kills and scored 79.5 points for the Cyclones.
Despite not playing much due to injury, Johnson-Lynch said that Rhodes still learned a lot and is a vital part of the team.
Iowa State’s exhibition against Creighton was the first time that Rhodes has stepped on the court in a match for Iowa State in nearly a year.
“I’m feeling good and I feel like I did really well against a big team,” Rhodes said. “They were the team I debuted against my freshman year and playing against them is always really good for me.”