Marija Popovic TCU 2021

Marija Popovic digs the ball against TCU on Sept. 25.

After splitting a weekend series with Texas Tech, Iowa State volleyball is looking to make some improvements this week during its time away from the court.

The Cyclones have a bye week this week, allowing them to make some of these adjustments prior to their next matchup.

Crucial bye week

The early portion of the Iowa State schedule has taken a toll on the players so far this season, but with one week to rest, the team will be well rested when play resumes.

Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch was quick to emphasize the importance of rest this week, saying that it will be necessary in order for the team to last the remainder of the season.

“Number one, it is important for rest and recovery. It has been so hectic, the preseason was so hectic, and then we rolled right into Big 12 and we have really not taken more than a day or two off in a row,” Johnson-Lynch said.

With the next matchup coming against top-ranked Texas, Iowa State will need to be on its A-game in order to compete.

Kenzie Mantz also described the importance of this week, saying that she felt the taxation of the early season physically and mentally.

“It has been very important because we are all pretty tired, so having a few days off has really prepared us,” Mantz said.

Addressing serving issues

The Cyclone serve caused problems for the team over the weekend, playing subpar in both matchups with Texas Tech. Johnson-Lynch was not worried about the high service error total from Thursday, but said that the team needs to cause the other teams more difficulty on the returns.

“Reps, reps, reps, rep it out in practice, try to add pressure to their serving routine so you get used to having to serve under pressure,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We didn’t miss; I actually didn’t think we served tough enough. I mean we just did not get them off the net enough.”

Johnson-Lynch has spent a lot of time this season talking about the importance of the serve as it can force poor attacks from opponents. In order for the team to get where they want to be, they will need to execute their serves.

Mantz also stressed this importance of the serve, saying that it is something that the team will be working on a lot this week.

Marija Popovic Drake 2021 (3)

Marija Popovic celebrates with her teammates after scoring a point over Drake on August 27. 

Defense of Popovic

Marija Popovic earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season, anchoring the back row defense this season.

Popovic values this award greatly, saying that it helps her to want to continue to work hard to win the award again.

“I am very proud of getting that award a second time, and it is just motivation for me to keep working harder and just try to be the best for my team,” Popovic said.

Johnson-Lynch had a lot of good things to say about Popovic, mentioning that every time they try to get her to improve in an area of her game, she finds a way.

“She is huge, she is a great player, she is so experienced, she is a take charge kind of player for us. I thought she had a great weekend,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We have been challenging her to just dig more hard hit cross court balls. She is really good at pursuing; we have just been trying to get her to dig the hard hit balls, and she did a really nice job of that this weekend.”

Iowa State returns to action against Texas on Oct. 21.

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