Iowa State needed a win on Saturday against the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns to finish the conference schedule with a winning record, and it looked well on its way to doing that as it won the first set 25-23.
However, for the second straight match — and for the second time against Texas this season — Iowa State lost three consecutive sets to lose the match 3-1 thanks to an inconsistent hitting performance.
“They had a really big block and were able to read our offense really well,” junior setter Piper Mauck said.
The Cyclones did not have a good day hitting after the first set, as they hit .244 in the first set but a combined -0.09 in the second and third set.
In the fourth set, the Cyclone hit better, hitting .364, but still lost the set 25-19 to give the Longhorns a 3-1 win over the Cyclones. The Cyclones hit .146 in total against the Longhorns.
One of the reasons the Cyclones hit poorly is because they were without sophomore right-side player Eleanor Holthaus.
Holthaus suffered an ankle injury on Tuesday and did not play in Iowa State’s game on Wednesday against the Kansas Jayhawks (which resulted in a 3-2 loss) and she was in street clothes during Saturday’s match against Texas. The timetable for her return is currently unknown.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Holthaus was (and still is) Iowa State’s leader in kills and points scored. Holthaus has 308 kills and has scored 361.5 points this season.
“We missed having her out there, she passes every rotation, she’s a nice right back player and she serves tough,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said.
Only one two Cyclones hit above .200 against the Longhorns — Mauck and senior outside hitter Josie Herbst.
Mauck hit .333 and dished out 20 assists, both of which were team-high to go along with digging seven balls. Herbst had a solid senior day showing with a hitting percentage of .214 and she hit eight kills.
However, Mauck and Herbst's contributions were not enough to lift the Cyclones over the Longhorns, as the Longhorns' defense held the Cyclones to .146 hitting and had 13.5 blocks.
Iowa State finishes the regular season 17-11 (8-8 Big 12) and in fourth place out of nine in the Big 12. Texas finishes the regular season 21-3 (15-1 Big 12) and have won a share of the Big 12 Championship along with the Baylor Lady Bears.
The postseason now awaits the Cyclones, as they'll find out on Sunday whether they’ll be in the NCAA tournament or if they’ll be in the National Invitational Volleyball Tournament (NIT) like they were last year.
“We have a pretty good level of confidence going in [to selection Sunday],” Mauck said.
The NCAA selection show is on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU.