Even though Iowa State missed a trip to NCAA Tournament, the Iowa State volleyball team ended the regular season strong.
A trip to the NIVC tournament
Iowa State finished with a 16-13 record, including a season-best four-match winning streak to end their season. Iowa State ended with a 9-7 record in Big-12 play, good enough to tie for third in the conference.
Still, Iowa State missed the tournament for the first time in 12 years.
"It was really disappointing not making [the NCAA Tournament] because obviously as a senior, your goal is to make it to the tournament and get as far as you can," outside hitter Jess Schaben said. "None of us seniors wanted it to be over yet."
The team had the choice to participate in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) and play together a little while longer.
The first two rounds of the NIVC will be held in Hilton Coliseum on Thursday and Friday night. Iowa State will go up against Drake in one of two first-round matchups Thursday evening at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs ended their regular season with a 21-14 overall record.
If Iowa State wins against Drake, Iowa State will play the winner of the Bowling Green and Bradley matchup on Friday night at 7 p.m.
"Drake is a scrappy team and they can definitely play with us," said libero Izzy Enna.
Bowling Green and Bradley face off in the matchup before Iowa State and Drake.
"I think the team reacted to going to the NIVC more positively than I thought we would," Enna said. "We were definitely bummed and I am actually surprised we are playing another Iowa team."
Schaben has never missed playing in the NCAA Tournament while playing at Iowa State and made it clear the whole team, but especially the seniors, that she did not want their time at Iowa State to end on a negative note.
When it came time to decide as a team to participate in the NIVC, Schaben was grateful once again for an opportunity to play the sport she loves.
"We had some unfortunate circumstances this year and we have to make the best of it," Schaben said. "Luckily, we still get to play because I know I don't wanna be done and I am so thankful I can still keep playing with this team I love."
Schaben said all three seniors thought they would never play in Hilton Coliseum again.
The Cyclones defeated Texas Tech 3-0 on Nov. 23 in Ames to close out the regular season. Emotions were already running high as it was Senior Night.
So when it was announced Iowa State would host the first two rounds of the NIVC, Schaben had more to be thankful for.
"I think all of us are excited to play at Hilton, because we[all three seniors] thought we might not play in Hilton again," Schaben said. "So it will be really fun for us."
Schaben and Lazard make First Team All-Big 12
The Big-12 Conference gave out their postseason awards on Monday and two seniors for Iowa State added on to their already impressive resumes.
Jess Schaben was a unanimous selection and Grace Lazard received the honor for the first time after a dominant senior year for the Cyclones.
Schaben joins some good company, as she is now a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree, joining Victoria Henson (2008, '09 & '10) and Jamie Straube (2010, '11, '12) as the only other Cyclones to be three-time First Team All-Conference in program history.
Schaben is also the first Cyclone to earn four all-conference honors in her career, as she was Second Team as a freshman.
"I am honored to get [First Team All Big-12] and I want to thank all those who helped me get there," Schaben said. "I am truly thankful for it."