Rather than the usual intensity of an Iowa State versus Iowa rivalry game, the Cyclones and Hawkeyes scrimmage against one another was filled with smiles, numerous errors and hiccups on the attack.
Iowa took the scrimmage three sets to one as Iowa State struggled to find an offense with a young and inexperienced squad.
Prior to the scrimmage, the two teams drilled for 30 minutes against one another. Initially, both teams struggled to set up any from of consistent offense during the drilling period, but toward the end both teams started to develop a rhythm on offense.
Iowa State took the first set from the Hawkeyes 25-22. Iowa struggled on the attack and had a hitting percentage of .000 until they hit a kill with the Cyclones leading 18-12. From there, the Hawkeyes were able to cut the Iowa State lead to 19-17 which forced the Cyclones to take a timeout.
The difference in the first set was the Cyclones ability to block the Hawkeyes on three of their attack attempts. Iowa only had one block.
After the Cyclones took the set, ISU had a hitting percentage of .146 while Iowa had a percentage of .103.
The Hawkeyes evened up the sets by taking the second 25-22 behind five team blocks and a poor hitting performance from Iowa State. The Cyclones’ hitting percentage dipped to .087 for the entire game while Iowa’s slightly dipped to .097.
In the third set, the Cyclones raised their team’s hitting percentage to .099, but the Hawkeyes’ jumped to .158 to take the set 25-18 and a 2-1 lead.
Iowa then took the fourth and final set 25-15. Iowa State’s hitting percentage dipped to .061.
Assistant coach Fiona Fonoti said the biggest thing for the team this spring season is developing chemistry on a practically brand new team.
“We lost our two big hitters — just kind of finding our offense [is our goal],” Fonoti said.
Last year, only Candelaria Herrera, Piper Mauck, Izzy Enna, Josie Herbst and Eleanor Holthaus earned significant playing time for the Cyclones. Of those five, only Enna, Herrera and Holthaus were available against the Hawkeyes.
Three of the players earning significant playing time this spring — Brooke Andersen, Meegan Hart and Avery Rhodes — all missed a majority of the past season due to season ending injury or illness.
Fonoti also said she wants to see the younger players find their role on the team.
Hart — a middle blocker — said this spring game gave her and her teammates the ability to work on covering and also work on their cohesiveness as a unit.
Aside from improvements as a team, the spring season is a time where players can work on improving their individual game.
Hart said she wants to be a leader by example and Jenna Brandt — last year's backup setter — said she wants to improve locating the ball to better set up her teammates on the attack.
“A lot of the time last year — I just relied on my athleticism, but now it’s more skill-wise,” Brandt said.
Brandt said she has been focusing on her placement of her feet and hands to better place the ball for the hitters.
Iowa State has two more weekends of spring volleyball to work on developing team chemistry and develop clear roles for young players.
Last season, the team struggled to find consistency during the season and ended up missing the NCAA Tournament.