It was a weekend of tight and at times tense play for the Iowa State volleyball team, who traveled to Chicago for a pair of matches against Big East opponent DePaul at the McGrath Phillips Arena.
The Cyclones were first edged out on Friday by the Blue Demons 3-2 and again fell to them on Saturday by a score of 3-1. The Cyclones dropped to an overall record of 6-12 as well as 1-3 during the spring season and have now lost three matches in a row dating back to their Feb. 27 meeting in Milwaukee, when they were swept by Marquette 3-0.
Both of the Cyclones' matches against the Blue Demons had close sets, as seen in the first match, when DePaul won the first and third sets by scores of 25-23 and 26-24 respectively before taking the deciding frame 15-9. DePaul quickly jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the fifth set and never looked back, going on a 8-7 run from there to close it out.
The Blue Demons' second matchup against the Cyclones had a similar theme, as DePaul won the second and third sets by scores of 26-24 and 25-23 respectively before closing it out in the fourth 25-22.
Iowa State had strong offensive outputs from its lineup, such as sophomore Annie Hatch recording her first career double-double performance in the second match, knotting 13 kills and a career-best 15 digs to lead the Cyclones' outside hitting game. Despite putting in big offensive numbers, the Cyclones seemed to be their own worst enemy in both matches against the Blue Demons.
Service errors falter Cyclones' opportunities
Iowa State tried to develop some momentum throughout both matches, but couldn't seem to capitalize on their leads as DePaul kept coming back with runs of points through their hitters. In the second set of the second match, the Cyclones had four different players make service errors to get the Blue Demons right back in the match. The Cyclones finished with eight service errors in total, as the Blue Demons didn't commit one until the third set to finish with just two.
Even though DePaul made attack errors of their own in the middle stages of the match, Iowa State again couldn't seem to close out the set, as DePaul freshman Jill Pressly and senior Avarie Evans-Allen combined for six kills to win the set 26-24.
The Cyclones' service errors also slowed their momentum in the first match. Despite outhitting their opponents with an average of 0.227 to DePaul's 0.191, Iowa State committed 13 total service errors over the course of the match compared to nine by the Blue Demons. DePaul's offensive proved to be to much in the fifth set, as they jumped out to an 11-4 lead to keep the Cyclones at bay for a 15-9 win.
Offense dominates play for both teams
Offense was the name of the game in both matches that the Cyclones had against DePaul, as both teams tried to set up their hitters to land big kills and shift the momentum towards their side. The Cyclones and Blue Demons each had 60 kills in their first match and DePaul outhit Iowa State in the second matchup 59-56.
The Cyclones had three players in each match record double-digit kills, with junior Eleanor Holthaus and senior Kenzie Mantz completing this feat in both matches. Holthaus recorded 12 kills in the first match and 14 the following day, while Mantz had 14 and 11 kills respectively against the Blue Demons.
Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch moved Holthaus from the right side to the left of the Cyclone front line due to the team's injuries, and the Richmond, Minnesota, native is now part of both the Cyclones' attack and block. She finished with hitting percentages of 0.111 and 0.116 against the DePaul, with Mantz hitting 0.321 and 0.333 as well.
In the passing game, senior setter Piper Mauck had strong performances against the Blue Demons. The Des Moines, Iowa, native left off from where she started in the first weekend of play to record another two double-digit assist matches.
She recorded 52 assists in the first match and 47 in the second to set up Iowa State's attackers of Holthaus, Mantz and junior Avery Rhodes, the last of whom had 14 kills against the Blue Demons in the Friday matchup. Mauck also finished with 11 digs in each match. Senior libero Izzy Enna also came off of a quiet first match to lead the Cyclone defense in Saturday's meeting with 22 of Iowa State's 69 total digs.
The Cyclones return to the court for another weekend series on March 19th and 20th against Big 12 opponents Oklahoma at Hilton Coliseum.