After an impromptu bye week last week because of an unexpected postponement against Oklahoma, Iowa State volleyball finally played volleyball again two weeks after their losses to Baylor.
Following a comeback bid that fell short and a sweep the next day, Iowa State lost 2-0 to a West Virginia team that is rising in the Big 12 ranks. This is the first time West Virginia has completed a sweep of Iowa State.
Iowa State now sits at 2-8 on the season with that being its seventh loss in a row and West Virginia is now 7-5, with seven match wins being the Mountaineers' best since joining the Big 12.
Offensive Woes Continue
The Cyclones have struggled so far this season on offense, and that was no different against West Virginia.
During both the Cyclones’ matches against the Mountaineers, their hitting percentage was down, hitting at a .146 hitting percentage Friday night and a .090 Saturday.
In match one Friday night, Iowa State’s highest hitting percentage came in the fourth set at a .393 when the Cyclones beat the Mountaineers 25-11. All other sets that night Iowa State was hitting under .200, even recording a .000 hitting percentage in set two when West Virginia won 25-15.
The second night didn’t look much different, with Iowa State’s highest hitting percentage coming during set two at a .147 hitting percentage. The Cyclones started the night with a .059 percentage in set one and finished it with a .07 to close out the third set.
Earlier in the week, redshirt freshman middle blocker Abby Greiman talked about using the block when playing these tall Big 12 teams to get their offensive efficiency back on track.
“Playing in the Big 12 we play a lot of really, really big teams so just being able to go out there and swing hard against those blocks even if you’ve got two big blockers in front of you, we’ve worked a lot on that,” Greiman said. “I was talking about smart decision-making not putting balls out of bounds or in the net if it’s not a good set.”
Attacking errors that involved balls getting hit out of bounds or into the net was also something that accounted for Iowa State’s low hitting percentage.
During night one, Iowa State committed 25 errors, with its highest of nine coming during the set two 25-15 loss. In night two, the Cyclones put down another nine errors in the first set and finished with 24 on the match.
West Virginia had 36 errors the first match, its highest coming in the fourth set when Iowa State won 25-11 with 13 and the Mountaineers then dropped it down to 15 on night two.
A Tale of Two Defenses
Two weeks after Iowa State’s defense held Baylor’s offense to its lowest hitting percentage yet, the Cyclones looked like two different defenses Friday and Saturday.
Head Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch previously said the way to capitalize on that defensive performance against Baylor was to put more pressure on offense, which in turn helps defensively because the other team can’t control the ball as well.
Iowa State’s best defensive performance against West Virginia came when they were performing well on offense, specifically in set four Friday night. Iowa State had a .393 hitting percentage and in turn, held the Mountaineers to a -0.128 hitting percentage.
West Virginia’s other lowest hitting percentage of that night, a .071, came on the Cyclones’ next best performance, a .194 hitting percentage when Iowa State rallied to push it to a fourth set.
Iowa State had 10 blocks Friday night, with senior middle blocker Candelaria Herrera leading the charge with six blocks. Freshman Alexis Engelbrecht was not far behind with four blocks on the night.
Night two of the doubleheader looked different defensively, with West Virginia hitting above its season average, a .166, on two of the three sets and on the night as well, where they finished with a .214 hitting percentage.
Once again, the Mountaineers performed at their best, a .243 hitting percentage, when the Cyclones were hitting at one of their worst, a .070 percentage.
The Cyclones also only recorded three blocks for the night compared to the Mountaineers’ seven.
Once again, Herrera led the team with two blocks, and Briana Lynch led West Virginia with five.
Although Iowa State went down in both matches, senior libero Izzy Enna had reason to celebrate.
Enna reached a career milestone Saturday at West Virginia when she got to 1,000 career digs.
She is the 17th player in Iowa State history to do so.
Enna recorded 15 digs on the night, which was a team high for the match.
Enna also had an ace during the match in set two.
Iowa State will return to Hilton Coliseum to take on Kansas on Friday and Saturday. The Cyclones will play Kansas at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.