Iowa volleyball falls fast in Ames


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AMES — The Iowa volleyball team returned home from Ames with a 2-1 record in the Iowa State Challenge this past weekend. The Hawkeyes defeated Arizona State in a close match, 3-1, and repeated the performance to win against Southern Mississippi, 3-1, on Sept. 2.

But Iowa (3-3) quickly fell behind then-No. 19 Iowa State and eventually lost the match (25-11, 25-16, 25-17) a day later.

The Cyclones presented Iowa with competition similar to “what [we’re] going to see every Friday and Saturday night in the Big Ten,” head coach Sharon Dingman said.

After two close victories against Arizona State (21-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-22) and Southern Miss (25-9, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23), the Hawkeyes lost to Iowa State in only one hour and 10 minutes. Outside of one 5-point run in the second set, Iowa never scored more than 4 points in a row — and the team only managed that many on a single occasion.

“We were playing a completely different opponent [on Sept. 3],” Dingman said. “Neither Arizona State nor Southern Miss look anything like Iowa State. [Iowa State is] way better — it’s way more physical, [and] I just didn’t think we responded to its physicality.”

Iowa’s average height falls at about 5-101⁄2, whereas Iowa State measures at around 6-0 across the team.

The Cyclone outside and middle hitters loomed over the net and repeatedly spiked balls over the net that Iowa simply couldn’t return, leaving the Hawkeye backcourt players falling to their knees inches away from the kills. Iowa tallied only 24 kills and 31 digs in three sets, compared with Iowa State’s 41 kills and 51 digs.

In addition to the differences in strength, height, and speed that set Iowa State ahead of Iowa, Cyclone middle blocker Tenisha Matlock spotted obvious holes in the Hawkeyes’ defense that were easy to capitalize on.

“Tips,” Matlock said when asked what Iowa struggled with. “They play more of a fight, so if you tip over the block, it was unexpected for them. Our defense in the back would tell us where to tip or go across.”

In addition to physical and strategic dominance, Iowa State also committed fewer than half as many hitting errors as Iowa. The Cyclones tallied only 11 attack errors and an attack percentage of .319, compared with Iowa’s 24 errors and .000 percentage.

“When a team lets you off the hook, you just don’t feel that pressure,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “If a team continually keeps the ball in play, you start to feel more and more pressure. There were stretches where I think [the Hawks] got frustrated with their own errors.”

Still, Dingman said, she was pleased with Iowa’s display against the team’s first ranked competitor.

She believes the Hawkeyes collected their third loss of the season because of a lack of momentum that stemmed from several small problems.

“I never felt like we really grasped onto [a momentum],” Dingman said. “I thought we did some good things, but clearly [Iowa State] controlled the match. I don’t think there was ever a doubt about who was in control of the match.”

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