It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for volleyball and sports in general this year due to COVID-19.
First, there was the question of whether there would even be a season, and then when that was figured out, how the season would look, and now, the question of fans is back in the mix.
The Iowa State volleyball season started out with the determination that fans would not be allowed at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State's first home match against Texas Tech allowed just the band and friends and family of the team inside Hilton.
Even though the usual Hilton Magic was missing, the band's presence helped in some ways for some members of the team.
"The band is always awesome," junior right side hitter Eleanor Holthaus said of the band cheering during the first home match. "They're some of our favorite fans, obviously, and I think it's just helpful that they were able to create noise like that in here, especially when we don't really have the usual Hilton crowd."
Without the usual Hilton crowd, the players had to work to bring their own energy to the match in order to keep the noise levels high and the team excited.
Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said the players would have to take charge during those first home matches against Texas Tech to keep the energy up and know that they also had the band, friends and family right there with them.
"Home-court advantage has a lot to do with fans," junior outside hitter Brooke Andersen said after the Texas Tech home match. "We also did it as a team, we were able to encourage each other too and make it loud in here, and I think that our band obviously did a great job of that."
Home court can be a big advantage during close sets and matches, and having fans in person to bring the energy when it comes down to the wire can help turn the match to the home team's advantage.
And for now, fans will be able to be in attendance at Hilton Coliseum to cheer on the Cyclones. And the volleyball team is excited to welcome them back.
"That's so exciting," senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera said. "The past games I know some of my teammates' families have been able to come, and I was so thankful for that because I could not imagine a game without any people ... I'm so excited for the fans to come and feel that environment again because I'm missing it so much."
Johnson-Lynch said the team is "carefully optimistic" about bringing people back into the stands because there is a lot of preparation that needs to take place. Even though the task is daunting and will take lots of work, it is exciting.
"Anytime we can play in front of people, that adds to the atmosphere, adds to our adrenaline, adds to your home-court advantage," Johnson-Lynch said. "It's awesome."
Close to 1,400 fans will be allowed at Hilton Coliseum for the Baylor match, and based on what is learned from that match, Iowa State event management will go from there.
Seats will be general admission and first come, first served, according to the volleyball COVID-19 mitigation graphic provided by Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard. The full arena will be open for seating to allow physical distancing, and there will be no floor access.
Iowa State volleyball's next home match will be Oct. 23 and 24 at Hilton Coliseum against Baylor.