After failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, the Iowa State Cyclones are working to get back to the big time. The team will have the luxury of having junior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera back.
Herrera is from San Juan, Argentina and played her freshman season at Florida A&M.
Following the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year, Herrera spent her summer playing for Argentina in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Challenger Cup, the NORCECA Pan-American Cup, FIVB Tokyo Qualification and the Pan-American Games.
“It was an honor to be able to represent my country,” Herrera said. “I learned a lot from the other players and about how they play.”
Herrera helped make history as she was a part of the first Argentinian team to ever win a medal at the Pan-American Games, the team taking home the bronze medal.
Herrera also made Argentina Senior National Team where she played in 18 matches for Las Panteras.
“When she left in May to join the national team, we didn’t know what her role would be on that team, it was difficult for her but she grinded it out, and she earned a starting spot on a team that was ranked 10th or 11th in the world at that time,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “She played all summer, played at a very high level and any time a player does that they typically come back and they are a lot better. I expect her to have a big season.”
Last season, Herrera earned a spot on the National Invitational Volleyball Championship All-Tournament team. Herrera was fifth on the team in kills with 180 and second on the team with 111 sets.
Johnson-Lynch believes Herrera has a high ceiling going into the 2019 season.
“I believe Candie has the potential to be one of the best blockers in the nation,” Johnson-Lynch said.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Avery Rhodes cites Herrera’s energy as what makes her great.
“I’ve never seen her really get down on herself, as a middle [blocker] you can’t do that — and so for her to be so energetic is a great thing,” Rhodes said.
On top of that, certain things can make a particular middle blocker better than another one.
Junior setter Piper Mauck plays right by Herrera and has noticed what she does well.
“Both of them [Rhodes and Herrera] are so fast and getting Candie back here this past week has been very fun,” Mauck said.
Herrera and the Cyclones will get their first action of the season on Friday as they host the Creighton Bluejays for an exhibition game at Hilton Coliseum at 6 p.m.
Iowa State begins the regular season August 30 at 3 p.m. in Oxford, Mississippi, against the Central Florida Knights.