Conference play is underway as the 8-3 Iowa State Cyclones were back at home against the 6-4 TCU Horned Frogs Friday night, starting off what figures to be a very competitive Big 12 schedule.
The first set started out with some back and forth, but TCU was able to build an early 5-3 lead. With help from three Horned Frog errors, the Cyclones put together a 5-0 run to take an 8-5 lead and force a TCU timeout. Following the timeout, the Horned Frogs were able to respond with two quick kills by Audrey Nalls. A Candelaria Herrera kill put a quick end to the TCU response, and the Cyclones rattled off a 4-0 run to make the score 11-7.
The battle continued with the score at 13-9, as the Horned Frogs were assisted by three Iowa State errors in putting together a 5-0 run and taking a 14-13 lead. It was back and forth from that point on, as the two squads went blow for blow all the way to an 18-18 tie.
A savvy flip over the net from setter Jaden Newsome retook the lead for the Cyclones, but an attacking error by Kenzie Mantz knotted things back up at 19. After TCU retook the lead at 21-20, Iowa State took a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Newsome made yet another flip over the net that fooled the Horned Frogs’ defense and tied the score once again. After a TCU error and a service ace by Newsome, TCU took a timeout down 23-21. A block assist by Mantz and Alexis Engelbrecht put momentum even more in the home team’s favor, and a Mantz kill finished off the set by a score of 25-21.
Eleanor Holthaus, Herrera, and Mantz each led the team offensively with three kills, with Newsome contributing nine assists. Marija Popovic led the team in digs with five, and Engelbrecht led an impressive Iowa State block with four block assists of her own. The story of the first set was the Cyclones out-blocking the Horned Frogs 4-1, while only allowing the opposition to hit at a .054 clip.
The TCU attack looked very impressive to start the second set, working to a 10-5 lead almost entirely off of kills by MyKayla Myers, Julia Adams, and Nalls. Following an Iowa State timeout, the Cyclones went on a 5-2 run largely due to Engelbrecht picking up three kills. This forced a timeout by the Horned Frogs.
Later on, with TCU leading 15-12, Iowa State went on a 5-0 run that completely shifted momentum. A thunderous kill by Herrera had tied things up at 15, and after a kill by Brooke Andersen and block assists by Annie Hatch and Herrera a timeout was taken by the Horned Frogs. After some back and forth made the score 21-18, a 4-0 run capped off by a kill and two service aces from Herrera won the set 25-18.
Engelbrecht and Herrera were undoubtedly the stars of the set, combining for nine kills and three block assists while pacing an Iowa State attack that had an astounding .517 hitting percentage. Newsome tallied 11 assists, and Popovic had six digs. The Cyclones’ block dominated the set yet again, out-blocking the Horned Frogs 3-0.
The third set started out very tightly contested, as the squads went back and forth all the way to a 10-10 tie. Two Iowa State errors assisted TCU in a quick 3-0 run, and the Cyclones used a timeout down 13-10. Coming out of the timeout, a kill by Newsome started a 3-0 run and response to knot the score back up at 13. Mantz would pick up four kills in a five point span as the teams went back and forth to an 18-18 tie, then TCU took a timeout after a Nalls error gave the Cyclones the lead.
With the score tied at 20, a kill by Adams and ace by Myers gave the Horned Frogs a 22-20 lead, prompting an Iowa State timeout. As she had done all night, a kill by Herrera helped turn the tide for the Cyclones, as Holthaus followed up with a service ace and TCU took a timeout with the score tied at 22. A kill by Adams put the Horned Frogs back up top, but a kill by Newsome and two attack errors by TCU won the set 25-23 for the Cyclones.
Many led Iowa State offensively with ten kills on the night, with Herrera following close behind at nine. Newsome assisted on 31 points, and Popovic led the team with 17 digs. The Cyclones attack showed out against what had been a stingy Horned Frog defense so far this season, as they hit at .375 rate while only allowing TCU to hit .170. The Iowa State blocking game that had improved over the past couple weeks took another step forward as well, as the Cyclones won the blocking battle 8-3.
Iowa State moves to 9-3 on the season overall, and they start out on the right foot in conference play at 1-0. Iowa State will look to take the second match against TCU at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon.