It was a weekend of excitement for the Iowa State volleyball team, as they began the season with a pair of wins in Ames. The team opened the weekend with a 3-1 win over Drake, followed by a 3-0 win versus Omaha.
To follow up the Cyclone Challenge, Iowa State will play three matches at the Penn State Classic starting Friday. The Cyclones play on Sept. 3 at 10 a.m., against LSU, at 7 p.m against Penn State and on Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. versus Oregon State.
The players are happy about the way the new players have meshed with the veterans, but understand that there is plenty of room for improvement.
Consistency, rhythm and chemistry
Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch has been satisfied with the offensive improvement early in the season, but hopes that the team can continue to make strides in that area.
“Even from Friday to Saturday, we got a lot better offensive rhythm. We knew our blocking defense was pretty good, I felt like that throughout preseason, I felt like that after the Creighton exhibition and I felt like that this weekend. We feel like our blocking and our defense is very good, we have to get our offense up to that level," Johnson-Lynch said.
A major part of this offensive improvement for the remainder of the season will be playing as a team. This is something that senior Eleanor Hothaus has especially stressed.
“You started to see the team come together. We were having fun out there, being aggressive and getting after it. I think we are starting to get unified, starting to trust each other, and really building that connection and chemistry on the court.”
Setter Jaden Newsome also placed an importance to communication and chemistry as the season rolls on.
“We did a good job in terms of connecting and communicating. I think that will progress over time, but I think we did a good job starting off," Newsome said.
Hatch settling in
Outside hitter Annie Hatch was one of a few Cyclones that did not get off to her expected start against Drake. Hatch said that she felt the pressure of the first performance in front of the home crowd this year, but was able to lock in later into the opening match.
“I think nerves got in there a little bit. I mean it is our first match of the season, new setter, so I think I just took a while to figure it out,” Hatch said. “I just tried to stay positive and just forget those mistakes and move on.”
While Johnson-Lynch acknowledged Hatch’s improvement from Friday to Saturday, she said that many hitters did not get off on the right foot after Friday’s match.
“We just didn’t hit great overall, especially our pin hitters on Friday,” Johnson-Lynch said. “So part of it is just that setter-hitter connection, and then our hitters just figuring out how to get kills, how to make smart choices on the attack, what do you do on the non-perfect set.”