A young Iowa State volleyball team faced a difficult challenge in its exhibition game against the No. 18 Creighton Bluejays.
The Cyclones were up to the task, as they defeated the Bluejays three sets to two on Friday in Hilton Coliseum — thanks to a strong start.
“We had trouble with Creighton in the spring, they handled us pretty easily,” said Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “We played quite a bit better tonight than we did in the spring.”
In the regular season, a volleyball match ends after a team wins three sets.
However, that was not the case on Friday as before the game, both teams agreed to play all five sets no matter what.
One Cyclone freshman who made an impact early on was freshman outside hitter Annie Hatch, who was causing problems defensively for the Bluejays.
“They have some big girls so I knew I had to hit the ball higher so they couldn’t spike it down,” Hatch said.
Creighton led for most of the first set but Iowa State kept it close, never trailing by more than four points.
Trailing 18-14, the Cyclones chipped away at the Bluejays lead one point at a time, making the score 19-18.
Iowa State would go onto to tie the set up at 20-20 and 23-23.
A kill by sophomore setter Jenna Brandt gave the Cyclones a 24-23 lead in set one.
Clutch plays by sophomore right-side player Eleanor Holthaus led the Cyclones to take set one 26-24.
“Having good energy and positive from the team really helped me get going tonight,” Holthaus said.
After taking a 6-5 lead in set two, the Cyclones took control of the match. Iowa State led the rest of the way and won set two 25-19.
In set three, Iowa State never trailed and took the 25-19 win.
“[In sets two and three] we were passing very well off of their tough serves,” Johnson-Lynch said.
The Cyclones held a 15-7 lead in set four and looked well on their way to take the set.
However, the Blue Jays stormed back and tied the set at 19-19.
Both teams traded blows in the set, but Creighton took set four 25-22.
In the final set, Creighton jumped out to an 11-4 lead. The Cyclones cut the Bluejays lead down to two on multiple occasions, but it wasn’t enough as the Bluejays took the final set 15-11.
“They kept giving us tough serves, and we had a lot of new people out there who haven’t played together that much in those sets [four and five] were a reflection of that,” Johnson-Lynch said.
The 3-2 win was a positive sign for a Cyclones team with seven freshmen fighting for playing time.
Iowa State will begin the regular season with the Rebel Invitational in Oxford, Mississippi, where they will face the Central Florida Knights on Aug. 30 and the Ole Miss Rebels on Aug. 31.