AMES, Iowa — An upset over the No. 1 team in the country will certainly find its way into future Iowa State volleyball media and recruiting guides.
Being able to show video of the moment when a few hundred Iowa State students stormed the court to celebrate the win over Nebraska will also be nice.
“It’s good recruiting film,” Iowa State coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “It’s good material to show kids what it’s like to play at Hilton Coliseum.”
The 25th-ranked Cyclones’ 25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21 win over Nebraska on Saturday afternoon in front of 3,385 fans marks the first time in program history that Iowa State beat the No. 1 team.
“The students storming the court is really cool, even though our players get a little nervous about it,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I don’t think there are many volleyball programs in the county where that happens. Even the Big Ten schools, you don’t see it very often.”
As for Nebraska, which entered the match ranked No. 1 with an 8-0 record? Nebraska coach John Cook watches the video of the losses, saying you don’t want a loss to beat you twice.
This one, though, will be tough to watch.
“We got totally outworked,” Cook said. “It comes down to serve and pass, and our serving and passing was not to the level to beat a team like Iowa State.”
The Nebraska-Iowa State series is still all Huskers, and probably always will be. But the win is another sign of how Johnson-Lynch, a Nebraska setter from 1991-95, has turned the program around in eight years from a losing outfit to an Elite Eight team last season.
Iowa State beat Nebraska for the second time in four years, the last time coming during Big 12 Conference play in 2009. Nebraska still leads the series 79-2.
“I think any time we can beat them you start to believe it’s possible,” Johnson-Lynch said. “The next time around you remember we’ve done it before. We’re still chasing them. That series is so lopsided it’s ridiculous, and we still got a lot of work to do. To do something we’ve never done before is great. We have our list of things we’ve never done before, and that was one of them. We’ve never beaten Nebraska at home.”
Nebraska had chances to win the first, second and fourth sets before faltering at the end each time.
“Every time we got two points, we missed a serve,” Cook said. “We just didn’t put any pressure on them and keep it on them. We kept letting them off.”
Needing to win the fourth set to extend the match, NU fell behind 5-0 and 11-4. Iowa State had three ace serves in the set.
Poor passing did not allow Nebraska to have its attackers in good positions at the net, and allowed Iowa State to get to the quick lead in the fourth set.
“I don’t think we had a swing in the first four serves,” Cook said. “It was all roll shots and bumping it over.”
Iowa State hurt Nebraska with its middle blockers, both of whom are Nebraska natives. Tenisha Matlock of North Platte and Jamie Straube of Tecumseh each had some pop to their swings, leading Iowa State with 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Matlock put the kill away on match point from the middle.
Johnson-Lynch was proud her two middles from Nebraska had big matches.
“There is always a little extra fire for them to play Nebraska, but sometimes it works against them where they get too amped up and they don’t play well,” she said. “I was glad to see them keep their composure and just go after it. Those two players, they came in pretty raw — Matlock for sure — and they’ve just worked hard to put themselves in this position. I’m thrilled for them."
Straube may not have imagined she’d beat Nebraska once during her career at Iowa State, but now she’s done it twice. She said it was great to compete against some of her former club teammates.
“I was happy we beat the No. 1 team — that’s awesome — but I was more happy with the way we played,” Straube said.
The Huskers’ .211 hitting percentage was the second-lowest of the season, and many of Nebraska’s 11 serving errors seemed to come at critical moments.
Gina Mancuso had 18 kills and Hannah Werth added 16 to lead Nebraska. The Huskers liked the matchup for right-side hitter Morgan Broekhuis, but she struggled. Broekhuis had four kills on 36 attempts with five errors for a negative hitting percentage.
Nebraska’s poor passing hurt the Huskers badly, Werth said, and then when Nebraska was in system Iowa State kept digging balls.
“They’re a scrappy team,” Werth said. “There were a couple balls we thought were down, and apparently they weren’t.”
Johnson-Lynch was happy for her team to have another bright spot in an up-and-down season that now includes wins over three ranked teams, especially because she knows Nebraska gave the Cyclones its best shot.
“I’ve always felt like Nebraska really prepares for us,” Johnson-Lynch said. “I feel like maybe of most of the teams they play in the season they don’t want to lose to Iowa State. I sense that probably because of my ties and because we have a lot of Nebraska players on our roster. I always feel like they’re out to get us a little bit more than some of the other teams they play. They’ve always been so prepared and kind of run through us. Tonight, I’m sure they were just as prepared. We were just able to outlast them.”
Nebraska now prepares to begin Big Ten play on the road against No. 4 Penn State on Wednesday.
IOWA STATE 3, NEBRASKA 1
Nebraska (kills-ace blocks-ace serves)—Cook 2-4-1, Mancuso 18-3-1, Broekhuis 4-3-0, Thramer 9-4-0, Haggerty 4-5-0, Werth 16-1-0, Dykstra 0-0-0, Hubl 0-0-0, Hall 0-0-0, McNeal 0-0-0, Strange 0-0-0. Totals 53-20-3.
Iowa State—Bigbee 10-0-0, Hockaday 10-0-0, Nolan 0-0-1, Landwehr 6-1-0, Straube 12-2-1, Matlock 13-1-0, Hudson 0-0-2, Hudson 0-0-2, Hahn 0-0-1, Malloy 1-0-0, Hurtt 9-1-0, Knuth 0-0-0. Totals 60-5-5.
Assists leaders--NU 51 (Cook 44); ISU 55 (Landwehr 47). Dig leaders---NU 78 (Dykstra 22); ISU 84 (Hahn 26). Hitting percentage---NU .211; ISU .182. T--2:00. A--3,385.