AMES, Iowa – No. 21 Iowa State had a lot of battling back to do, but were eventually able to over North Dakota 3-1 (20-25, 25-15, 25-20, 26-24) Saturday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum. ISU improved to 2-0 on the season, while North Dakota finished the Cyclone Invitational with a 1-2 record.
Samara West had the best match of her ISU career with a career-high 14 kills with a career-best .600 hitting percentage to go with five total blocks. Morgan Kuhrt posted a double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs, while Caitlin Nolan posted 24 digs.
Story of the Match
For the second match in a row the Cyclones were hampered by a slow start as ISU got itself into an early 8-3 hole. However, ISU was able to battle back on multiple occasions, having it tied up as late at 15-15. However, North Dakota began to pull away, getting up 22-18. ISU did its best to hold off UND, but kills by Chelsea Moser and Sydney Griffin gave North Dakota the first 25-20.
The second set totally belonged to Iowa State. At 5-5, the Cyclones rallied off four consecutive points via some strong serving from Monique Harris. At 13-9 in favor of the Cyclones, Tory Knuth went behind the service line. The Big 12’s leading server in 2013, Knuth showed that she had not lost her form, as her dipping serve was as good as ever. At 16-9 came the rally of the match. UND was able to get off a bunch of high-quality shots, but Morgan Kuhrt repealed all comers, digging four consecutive North Dakota shots. Finally, Grace Bettenga tried to go wide, but missed, getting the Hilton Coliseum crowd onto its feet. ISU sailed to the set win smoothly, with Knuth putting down the kill to get ISU the set 25-15.
The third set was another one that belonged to the Cyclones. Iowa State scored the first point of the game and did not look back. Iowa State was strong in all aspects, with the offense firing at a .367 hitting percentage and restricting North Dakota to an .080 hitting percentage. UND was able to reel ISU back in within three, but ISU was able to close it out on a Kuhrt kill at 25-20.
Once again, the Cyclones ran out to a big lead in set four, thanks to the performance of Samara West, who had three kills in her first three swings to get ahead 7-2. However, North Dakota bounced back quickly. With ISU ahead 9-5, Denae Dominguez went back to serve and led UND to seven-straight points and a 12-9 lead. That lead would get up to 15-10 before ISU began to recover and try and close the gap. However, the Cyclone comeback effort was struggling to get going, until Tory Knuth stepped back to serve. The Big 12’s leading server in 2013, Knuth came up huge with a pair of aces to go a kill from Jess Schaben and a block by Samara West to bring up match point. At 25-24, Julia Kaczorowska fired a shot wide and gave ISU the win in four.
Cyclone Game Ball Goes to:
Samara West. Iowa State has continued to experiment with middle blockers in the Cyclone Invitational. Last night, she didn’t see any playing time against Dayton, but this afternoon she was the key to the ISU win. West finished the match with a career-high 14 kills at a career-best .600 hitting percentage. She also contributed a solo block and four block assists.
*Samara West finished with a career-high 14 kills at a career-best .600 hitting percentage.
*Caitlin Nolan finished the match with 24 digs, her 16th career match with at least 20 digs.
*Morgan Kuhrt finished with 11 kills and 11 digs, her fifth career double-double.
*Suzanne Horner posted 29 assists and 11 digs, her ninth career double-double.
Iowa State is back in action later today at Hilton Coliseum at 6:30 p.m. The match-up between the undefeated Cyclones and Golden Eagles and will be shown live on Cyclones.TV Powered by Mediacom.