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Freshman outside hitter Annie Hatch hits the ball Sept. 6 at the game against Penn State. Penn State won 3-0.

Fresh off of a bounce-back win against Northern Iowa, Iowa State (3-3) will travel to Appalachian State with a chance of adding three games into the win column.

Iowa State will be participating in the Appalachian Invitational, and aside from Appalachian State (2-5), the Cyclones will also face Western Carolina (2-4) and North Carolina State (2-4).

The Cyclones will play at 11 a.m. Friday against Western Carolina and Appalachian State at 5:30 p.m., but neither game should be much of a challenge for the Cyclones.

Western Carolina has yet to play a Power Five opponent and Appalachian State has been swept by the likes of Arizona, Duke and Clemson.

The biggest challenge of the weekend will be North Carolina State, who have beaten Kansas State, but have also suffered losses to Alabama and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Like the Cyclones this season, the NC State Wolfpack has struggled on the attack this season and own a .176 hitting percentage as a team while the Cyclones’ percentage is only .033 higher.

On the attack, NC State has a high-volume hitter it uses on the attack in Melissa Evans, who has a .210 hitting percentage and averages 3.52 kills a set.

To avoid a poor hitting performance against NC State, the Cyclones need to stay aggressive and keep the game moving at a fast pace like they did against UNI on Tuesday.

“Because once we start getting timid, things start to slow down, but we are really good at playing a fast-paced game,” said sophomore right side Eleanor Holthaus.

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Sophomore right side Eleanor Holthaus serves the ball Sept. 6 at the game against Penn State. Penn State won 3-0.

Keeping a fast pace against the Panthers, Iowa State’s two starting outside hitters, Annie Hatch and Josie Herbst, had strong hitting percentages above .300. For Hatch, it was the first time hitting above .300 in her freshman campaign.

“We haven’t had both outsides have a good night and they both were 14, 16 kills and both hit for a very nice percentage,” said coach Christy Johnson-Lynch.

Whether it is an opponent making a run or a good play on the defense, the Cyclones have issues keeping their composure and it severely dampens the team's attack.

Johnson-Lynch said she can notice when panic sets in and has an effect on the coaching staff and players.

Against UNI, the Cyclones lost the third set and Johnson-Lynch saw some panic in her players, but the team was able to avoid a sluggish fourth set and exploded on the attack with .375 hitting percentage to take the set.

“Sometimes when we get blocked or whatever, we kind of let it get in our heads, and this game we just kind of played through it,” said freshman outside hitter Michal Schuler.

Iowa State may be turning a corner in regard to their on-court composure, but the team still has question marks at one of the most important positions on the defense at libero.

Schuler started at the position against UNI despite never playing the position before and Johnson-Lynch said each week it has been a game-time decision as to who is starting at libero.

Aginst NC State, it could be Schuler, Izzy Enna or Jaiden Centeno making the start for the Cyclones.

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