116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Home-court advantage wasn’t enough to lift Northern Iowa volleyball past Iowa State Wednesday night, as the Cyclones grew their advantage all-time in the rivalry series to 30-28 with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-9, 25-22) win over the Panthers.
UNI (4-6) got an announced McLeod Center crowd of 2,522 on its feet early, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first set with former Cyclone Jenna Brandt serving, but a hitting percentage of .028 and eight errors paved the way for the Cyclones’ (7-2) first-set comeback.
“I kind of prepared myself knowing it was going to be a little different night tonight knowing that I know three-fourths of the girls on the other side,” Brandt said. “I think that we’re going to have to have a lot of different people step it up physically and do different things, and I think we’re well aware of it after tonight’s loss.”
The Panthers' struggles continued throughout the match as their hitting percentage went negative in the second set loss and was just .152-percent in the third. After the loss coach Bobbi Petersen described the struggles her team endured, particularly in their pass-receive game.
“I think the biggest (problem) was our first-ball contact,” UNI Coach Bobbi Petersen said. “It was probably one of our poorest passing matches of the season. I think at one point we had three or four hitters hitting negative and, I mean, you can’t have 23 errors in three sets. Part of that is (Iowa State) is a really good defensive team. On the other side of it our serving, we have to serve a lot more aggressive, especially at home.”
Iowa State’s success was led by the trio of Eleanor Holthaus, Kenzie Mantz and Candelaria Herrera as they totalled 13, 12 and eight kills, respectively. Meanwhile, setter Jaden Newsome registered a match-high 34 assists.
Coming off a 2-1 mark at Washington State’s Cougar Invitational last week, UNI outside hitter Emily Holterhaus — who was one of three Panthers with a negative hitting percentage — said the team’s struggles were both physical and mental.
“Overall a lot of things that come to mind. When things aren’t going well, just like believing in ourselves,” Holterhaus said. “It’s the game of volleyball, you’re going to make errors, so I think when we are making mistakes in (pass and receive) we need to be able to pick it up in a different area. Finding those people who will step up in those times is going to be really important for us.”
Petersen echoed Holterhaus’ remarks, and made a point to explain how her team was too often caught out of system and on defense against the Cyclones.
“Initially I thought we’d be a little rough to begin with because of the awesome crowd,” Petersen said. “I know sometimes we feel a little bit helpless, because when you’re out of system a lot there’s not a lot you can do, but we’ve got to make smart decisions and rely on our defense and I don’t think we’re doing that right now.”
UNI travels to Wisconsin Friday for the Marquette Invitational. The Panthers will play Wright State and UTSA on Friday before taking on Marquette on Saturday.
Iowa State faces St. Thomas and Minnesota this weekend in Minneapolis.