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Jaiden Centeno serves the ball at the Penn State game Sept. 8. Penn State won 3-0.

Normally, Iowa State volleyball plays a spring season that usually consists of five or six tournaments from early March to late April.

However, with the 2019 coronavirus pandemic causing the NCAA to cancel all spring sports and Iowa State University moving to online classes, the Iowa State volleyball team has had to make some changes ahead of what may be an unknown fall season.

“[Since practices were forced to be canceled] we’ve emphasized working out to our players, schoolwork and we’re making sure they are staying motivated so that way we’re not further behind in the fall,” Iowa State Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said.

Iowa State competed in one spring match before the season was canceled, which was a 3-1 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers.

With practices being canceled because of COVID-19, the team has been forced to move to online platforms to stay in touch.

“We’re learning as we go, we’ve been trying to figure it out, stay in touch, FaceTime, group calls, to see each other and talk to one another,” Johnson-Lynch said.

The team's last practice came the Thursday before spring break (March 12) and at the time, Johnson-Lynch said they all thought they would see each other again before the semester ended.

However, that turned out not to be the case.

“There’s a lot of disappointment that we can’t continue what we were doing, but hopefully we’ll be back in the fall,” Johnson-Lynch said.

What makes this time more disappointing for Johnson-Lynch is the effect COVID-19 has had on recruiting.

“Trying to do all of our player development and recruiting from afar [has been the most challenging part of this time] because you don’t have all that face-to-face time with one another. We were right in the middle of recruiting and traveling. Recruiting is challenging because now is the time to offer and information is limited,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Decisions on what high school recruits are getting offers are being made with less information according to Johnson-Lynch. Despite not being able to play the spring season, the Cyclones are more fortunate than some other teams.

The Cyclones are only losing one player, outside hitter Josie Herbst, from a season ago, making them one of the most experienced teams in the country.

“I think we have an advantage in only graduating one player, they know exactly what to expect when they come in,“ Johnson-Lynch said.

One player who has had a major opportunity taken from her (for now), is junior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera, who was supposed to play for the Argentinian National Team in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

ISU vs Kansas 10

Candelaria Herrera with a couple Iowa State volleyball players versus Kansas on Oct. 2.

Herrera will have to wait another year for the chance to play in the Olympics, as the 2020 Olympic Summer Games have been moved to July 23, 2021, to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

Since practices are canceled, it is now solely on the players to work out by themselves.

Meanwhile, the coaches have to prioritize what they want to see from their players come the fall.

Johnson-Lynch said conditioning is the most important thing her staff has emphasized during this time of no practice.

“We have a huge advantage heading into an unknown, and we need to be in good condition come August,” Johnson-Lynch said. 

Before the practices were canceled and they all went their separate ways, Johnson-Lynch had a message for her team.

“Nothing will change in terms of expectations, hard work on and off the floor, different and challenging. Keep working out, need self-motivation, can’t come back in August out of shape,” Johnson-Lynch said.

As of May 5, all NCAA volleyball teams return to practice in August.

Iowa State volleyball's fall season schedule has yet to be released.

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