Any hopes of a deep NCAA tournament run for Cyclone volleyball were crushed by the 15th-ranked Creighton Bluejays on Friday, as they beat Iowa State in a 3-0 sweep in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Iowa State Cyclones felt confident that they could beat the Bluejays coming into their matchup in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Volleyball tournament, as they had already beaten Creighton in an exhibition game earlier this year 3-2.
The Cyclones struggled to contain the Bluejays' attacks and struggled to create offense of their own, but had solid performances by two freshmen in Annie Hatch and Michal Schuler.
Cyclones' defense falters in defeat
Prior to Friday’s NCAA tournament matchup against Creighton, Iowa State had only been allowing its opponents to hit .208 per match. This hitting percentage was fourth in the Big 12.
However, that strong defense did not show in its defeat to Creighton.
In its 3-0 loss to Creighton, Iowa State allowed Creighton to hit .366 overall. Sets two and three were the worst for Iowa State, as Creighton hit .467 in the second set and .452 in the third set.
Creighton out-hit Iowa State .366 to .208. They also hit 11 more kills and scored 18 more points than Iowa State did.
While the Bluejays offense put the match away, the Cyclones' inconsistent offense in the first two sets doomed the Cyclones even more.
Poor attacking dooms Iowa State
Iowa State had an opportunity against Creighton from the very beginning of the match. Creighton hit .188 in the first set, yet Iowa State couldn’t take advantage as they hit .206. Iowa State lost the first set 25-22.
To make the first set even more difficult to overcome was the five service errors the Cyclones committed.
Iowa State’s offense couldn’t build momentum in the second set, as it only hit .132 and ended up losing the set 25-15.
The Cyclones saved their best hitting set for last — hitting .310 in the third set. However, this didn’t get the job done as the Bluejays out-hit the Cyclones in the third set 25-19.
When all was said and done, the Cyclones hit .208, which isn’t that far off from their season average of .237.
However, hitting .169 in the first two sets combined doomed the Cyclones.
Despite this, the Cyclones had a strong showing from some young guns.
Hatch and Schuler shine in first NCAA tournament
In its loss in the 2019 NCAA tournament to Creighton on Friday, Iowa State had two freshmen make a profound impact — Hatch and Schuler.
Hatch led the Cyclones in hitting percentage with .357, her third-best hitting percentage this season in a three-set match.
Hatch hit six kills on 14 attempts and scored eight points, which gave her the third-most points for the Cyclones against the Bluejays.
Schuler hit nine kills and scored nine points, both of which were tied for a team-high (senior outside hitter Josie Herbst tied Schuler in both statistics), on Friday.
Schuler also hit .238, which is her best hitting percentage in a match since the Cyclones faced off against the Oklahoma Sooners on 10/19. Schuler also had nine digs, nearly giving her a double-double.
The Cyclones' season comes to an end with a record of 17-12.