AMES, Iowa – The No. 21 Iowa State volleyball team kicked off its 2015 season with a 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-21) victory over Dayton Friday evening at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones are now 1-0 on the season, while the Flyers fell to 0-2, having lost to North Dakota in five sets earlier Friday in Ames.
Jess Schaben led ISU in her debut match with 11 kills, while Morgan Kuhrt kicked in nine and Natalie Vondrak came off the bench with seven kills.
Story of the Match
Dayton soared out of the game, blitzing out to an 8-0 that was only stopped when outside hitter Jill Loiars slipped setting up a kill attempt. DU was able to maintain an eight-point lead as late as 17-9, before the Cyclones were able to battle back. ISU was able to narrow the gap to four points a couple of times, but the Flyers were able to battle back. The Cyclones finally got it down to 23-20 via kill from Alexis Conaway, but Dayton wasted no time closing out the set, taking it 25-20.
Morgan Kuhrt got a block to start the second set, to ensure it was not a one-sided affair from the get-go. ISU finally got some separation at 10-10, going on a 4-0 fueled by a pair of Dayton errors, and kills from Kuhrt and debutant Grace Lazard. While the Flyers never allowed the lead to get bigger than five, the closest they could get it to was 23-21. After Mackenzie Bigbee brought up set point with a kill, the Flyers fought off one, but Natalie Vondrak stepped up with a kill to take the second set 25-22.
Iowa State asserted itself early in set three and never looked back, as the Cyclones hit .371 for the frame. Kuhrt played an important role in that run, posting four kills in the frame on just eight swings. Dayton was able to keep it together and slowly reeled in the Cyclones at 19-16. ISU left the Flyers in the dust after that, with kills from Conaway and Kuhrt combined with errors by Dayton to bring up set point. DU fought off one set point, but Bigbee slammed down the winning kill and ISU took the set 25-18.
Set four was another tight frame, with neither team getting a lead of greater than two points across the first two-thirds of the set. ISU finally got some wiggle room with a 3-0 run to make it 18-15, but the Flyers battled back to tie it up at 19-19. From there, Jess Schaben made her mark on the match. After being shut out in the third set, the freshman from Defiance, Iowa powered down a couple of kills to help re-establish ISU’s lead. At match point, Dayton setter Megan Giardina tried to fire a setter dump to the back corner, but missed. Giving ISU the set at 25-21, and the match.
Cyclone Game Ball Goes to…
Natalie Vondrak. The redshirt junior’s match started on the bench, but the outside hitter was pressed into service in the first set after Ciara Capezio went down with an injury. Player her first match at outside after three seasons at middle blocker, Vondrak offered power and smart shot selection to the Cyclone attack, as her efficiency helped raise ISU out of a cold start to the match.
Vondrak finished with seven kills and two blocks, one solo and an assist, and two digs in the victory.
*Caitlin Nolan finished the match with 18 digs, her 49th career match with at least 10 digs.
*Monique Harris posted 20 assists and 10 digs, her fourth career double-double.
*Morgan Kuhrt recorded 10 digs, her seventh match as a Cyclone with at least 10 digs.
*Iowa State came away victorious in spite of Dayton having more kills (48-to-47). ISU won just one match in 2014 when the opponent had more kills.
The Cyclones return to Hilton Coliseum tomorrow with a Cyclone Invitational doubleheader. ISU starts off with an afternoon meeting against North Dakota at 1:30 p.m., and closes the tournament against Marquette at 6:30 p.m.