The anticipation is nearly over. The Iowa State volleyball team is set to take on Stanford to kick off the NCAA Tournament at 4:30 p.m. on Friday in Minneapolis.
Anticipation was incredibly high for the Cyclones during the selection show, but the focus has changed quickly as all of the players are now focused on the task at hand.
Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch is focused on taking things one step at a time. Johnson-Lynch, in her 17th season leading the Cyclones, said the team can't afford to think about its next match, as it will not have another if composure is lost.
This is how Johnson-Lynch has always operated, easing the tensions of players that have not experienced a match like this before.
“We handle it like any other game. We take time to breathe and stay in the moment,” Johnson-Lynch said. “If you start thinking ahead or what-ifs or any of that, you kind of lose sight of what you are doing at the time.”
Stanford shared three common opponents with Iowa State this season, losing to Texas and Minnesota, but beating Penn State. The Cyclones finished the season with an 0-4 record against these opponents.
The Cardinal finished the season with an 18-10 record, solidifying themselves as a tournament team.
Stanford setter Kami Miner ran the Cardinal offense extremely well in her first year with the team, earning the honor of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Having a setter of this caliber can be extremely valuable, keeping the team in-system and hitting spots.
Finishing the season among the top 15 teams in hitting percentage, the Stanford attack will be the biggest challenge that Iowa State will face heading into the match.
Johnson-Lynch has high praise for this Stanford team, saying that the record may not completely reflect it, but the historical success of the program is still a factor for them.
“They are a tremendous team. Even though they didn’t get a seed, physically, they are still one of the best teams in the country,” Johnson-Lynch said.