IOWA CITY — Despite an infusion of youth, Christy Johnson-Lynch expected her Iowa State volleyball team to be good.
The longtime coach is seeing those expectations fulfilled early.
“I did go into the season feeling like we had talent,” Johnson-Lynch said after the Cyclones held off Iowa, 25-18, 25-22, 19-25, 18-25, 15-10, in the final match of the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament in front of 2,783 fans Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “In fact, I think we could have had one or two more (wins) under our belt, but that is the coach in me. Always wanting a little more. We’re talented. I think we should be having success and against teams with equal talent, we have just got to battle like we did tonight.”
After a 2-3 start, Iowa State (9-3) has won seven matches in a row. The Cy-Hawk Series Tournament started Thursday when the Cyclones swept Lipscomb in three sets, then outlasted Coastal Carolina in five on Friday.
The victory over Iowa was the 12th in 14 years for Iowa State since the Cy-Hawk volleyball series resumed in 2006.
“We finally found our rhythm and we are playing well together,” said Iowa State sophomore outside hitter Eleanor Holthaus, who led the Cyclones with 19 kills.
Iowa State appeared poised for a sweep after claiming the first two sets in convincing fashion, but Iowa rallied behind its crowd for a pair of wins to force a winner-take-all fifth set.
“They had a great crowd tonight,” Iowa State senior outside hitter Josie Herbst said. “They had more people than us, so their crowd got them more excited. We just had to keep each other more excited and keep working hard.”
Herbst was a dominating factor in the decisive fifth set. The Bettendorf graduate posted five of her 11 kills in the final set, including three in a row that pushed Iowa State within three points of victory at 12-7.
“I just went up there and swung hard,” Herbst said.
Freshman Michal Schuler led Iowa State with 13 digs, while junior setter Piper Mauck notched 55 assists.
With 13 kills apiece from freshman outside hitter Annie Hatch and sophomore middle blocker Avery Rhodes, Iowa State had four players with a double-digit kill number.
“It is really good to have multiple players getting that number of kills,” Holthaus said. “It keeps the other team guessing about where the ball is going to.”
Sophomore outside hitter Courtney Buzzerio had a career-high 19 kills for Iowa (6-5), which finished the tournament with a win over Lipscomb and losses to Coastal Carolina and Iowa State.
“The team believes that they are supposed to win,” Iowa interim coach Vicki Brown said. “When you have that true belief, it is just a matter of, ‘We have to find our rhythm.’”
Iowa State’s win streak will be put to a severe test Wednesday at No. 3 Texas.
“It is going to be a great match,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I always think there is freedom going into a place like that where no one picked you to win, but yet, we do have talent physically and I think we can hang with them.”