With only four games left on the schedule, Iowa State’s matchup against Oklahoma will determine which team will finish third in the conference behind Texas and Baylor.
If Iowa State wins, both teams will have an 8-5 conference record, with the Cyclones holding the tie breaker and able to control their own destiny for the rest of the Big 12 season. The Cyclones will also have a better standing to make the NCAA Tournament.
Earlier in the season, the Cyclones lost to the Sooners on the road 3-1 on Oct. 19.
During the match Oklahoma held Iowa State to a hitting percentage of .121 during the match and in the first set, the Cyclones had a hitting percentage of .000.
“Even down there [at Oklahoma], I mean, I don’t even know if it was even so much of what they did,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It was our serve, our passing and it was more about the play on our side of the net.”
The Cyclones will have to deal with several factors on Friday that will have an effect on the Cyclone attack like the Sooners’ stout defense and strong serving.
Johnson-Lynch said the Sooners have a topspin server and a couple float servers, which will create different dynamics when the Cyclones are receiving the serve.
The topspin serves come in fast and dive towards the ground while float serves are all about placement.
— Iowa State Volleyball (@CycloneVB) November 15, 2019
If the Cyclones can identify these different serves early, they can have better passes to setter Piper Mauck, which will help the offense move smoother.
Heading into their matchup on Friday, the Cyclones will have the advantage of rest after not having a game on Wednesday.
“Usually when we have days off we are a little rusty, but I don’t think we were very rusty,” Avery Rhodes said. “I think we were very rejuvenated, so we had that extra energy, which I think was well needed so we can really take down OU.”
The Cyclones are also coming off of a strong 3-0 win against Kansas State on Saturday.
Eleanor Holthaus, an outside hitter, said the Cyclones played a complete game and had great communication.
Rhodes, a middle blocker, said the team was aggressive on the attack throughout the match.
At the same time, Oklahoma had an elite defensive performance against Texas Tech on Wednesday where they had 17 blocks in five sets.
This season, Oklahoma’s offense has been amongst the worst in the conference as it ranks seventh out of nine teams in hitting percentage, but the Sooners have the second best opponent hitting percentage.
Oklahoma ranks second due to its solid block, which ranks fourth in blocks per set in the conference and good back-row, which ranks first in digs a set.
Looking at the team now, Johnson-Lynch said they are competing hard and having fun, but it is important to not let the importance of these last four games, especially against Oklahoma get the better of the Cyclones.
But if the Cyclones want a shot at third place and also a spot in the NCAA Tournament, it all starts with a win against Oklahoma.
Source: Iowa State Daily