Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State volleyball looks for starting setter to emerge

Cyclones counting on Piper Mauck or Jenna Brandt to step up

Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State Cyclones

AMES — Iowa State volleyball has a dynamic duo at the net in outside hitter Jess Schaben and middle blocker Grace Lazard.

Now, the Cyclones just need someone to get them the ball.

Iowa State graduated setter Monique Harris and now sophomore Piper Mauck and freshman Jenna Brandt are battling to become the Cyclones’ new setter.

“Someone needs to emerge in that position,” Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “We need someone in the setting position that can make Jess, make Grace, make everybody look good.”

Mauck saw some playing time last season when Iowa State used the 6-2 system briefly. She recorded 189 assists and 79 digs.

The 6-foot-2 Mauck is the taller of the two setters and is able to block more balls and play better in a traditional 5-1 system. Brandt, on the other hand, is 5-foot-10 and is more athletic, so she’s able to dig more balls and move around the court to get to bad passes better.

“I love, too, that they seem to really have a great camaraderie,” Johnson-Lynch said. “When you’re competing for a spot, sometimes there can be some tension, but they seem to get a long really well. They’re learning from each other and they enjoy each other, which is really an awesome combo.”

It’s those two that Schaben and Lazard will be relying to make them fulfill their potential.

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Schaben is already considered a top player in the Big 12, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors last season. She recorded a team-high 338 kills last season.

“She looks great,” Johnson-Lynch said of Schaben. “It’s not like her improvement is going to be a huge amount because she’s already so good. We’re looking for little things from her.”

Things like ball handling and passing. They also want her to include more angles of attack.

Schaben likes what she’s seen so far out of the two setters.

“They’re both really good and really athletic,” Schaben said. “It’s been fun to hit off of both of them and get both of their sets.”

Lazard, on the other hand, has been dominant in stretches, but she hasn’t been as consistent as Johnson-Lynch would like her to be. She had 246 kills last season, but there were 10 matches in which she recorded six or fewer kills.

“I think Grace has been good, but I don’t think she’s quite put together a season that matches her potential,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We’ve seen it from time-to-time, but I don’t think she’s had the season where every night you’re impressed.”

Johnson-Lynch believes Lazard has All-Big 12 and All-American talent. Lazard is confident she’ll be more consistent this season.

“I have a lot to work on, I have a lot to show that I’ve been working on,” Lazard said. “It’s going to be a phenomenal season for me, I feel like. I have a good feeling. I just have to keep working and keep grinding.”

Both Mauck and Brandt love setting to Schaben and Lazard. Mauck feels some pressure giving Iowa State’s hammers a good ball.

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“That’s why one of my big focuses this spring was my footwork because sometimes I’d be a little lazy and I’d just shoot the ball up there,” Mauck said. “Getting my feet there has made a huge difference — especially with Grace.”

Brandt is still in sheer awe of the raw power Lazard has.

“It’s crazy,” Brandt said. “I’ve never seen any middle up in the air with their hand ready all of the time — like, ‘Whoa, where’d she come from.’ It’s awesome, I love it.”

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