Having swept their first two opponents in the NIVC (Drake and Bradley), Iowa State will continue its season with a quarterfinal matchup against North Texas on Wednesday night.
Iowa State comes into the matchup with a 18-13 overall record, riding a six-match win-streak.
The Cyclones’ opponent will be the North Texas Mean Green. The Mean Green hold a 19-16 record coming in to the match. North Texas defeated Wichita State in four sets last Friday to advance to this point.
This matchup between the Cyclones and Mean Green is one of rarity. The last time these teams played one another was in 1984 in a tournament in Oklahoma.
North Texas will be a different team altogether according to coach Christy-Johnson Lynch.
North Texas uses a “three middle-blocker-system,” according to Johnson-Lynch. Johnson-Lynch made note of the fact that there is not traditional middle on the floor and you have to stay alert for who is hitting in which rotation.
“[North Texas] is playing really well right now,” Johnson-Lynch said. “That team has some big arms on the roster and we need to be ready for all of them at any moment.”
As a head coach, Johnson-Lynch’s job is to alert her team when they will be facing a team with a new approach, such as North Texas.
However, ask the Cyclones and they’ll tell you that there is only one team they are worried about: themselves.
Iowa State learned after beating Drake and Bradley earlier in the tournament that it can’t afford to worry about what their opponent wants to do.
Johnson-Lynch and numerous players agreed that Iowa State spent too much time worrying about what Drake or Bradley would bring next. All of that extra worrying led to sloppy play and missed assignments, Johnson-Lynch said after the win over Bradley.
The Cyclones want to control what happens on their side of the net, according to senior Hannah Bailey.
Bailey believes if the Cyclones focus on their play and not worry about the opponent’s, then good things should happen.
“We need to go out and be aggressive from the start,” Bailey said. “When we focus on what we do best then we will see good things happen.”
Piper Mauck agreed.
The 6-foot-1 setter for the Cyclones was credited by Jess Schaben as the reason for her great performance after the victory over Bradley. Mauck had the same sentiment as Bailey.
The sentiment is clear. Iowa State should obviously understand its opponent, but not at the cost of their own success.
“All of [North Texas’s] hitters have tendencies,” Mauck said. “This game and the rest of the season is about raising our level of play so we can have more success.”