AMES, Iowa – Iowa State volleyball’s hopes of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament with a group of experienced players came to an end on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones fell to the Wisconsin Badgers 25-22, 25-20, 25-23 in the second round. This is Iowa State’s second loss in three years to Wisconsin at the NCAA Tournament.
The Badgers had a potent attack throughout the match, hitting over .300 every set. They were led by freshman standout Dana Rettke who posted 15 kills with a .520 hitting percentage.
“We couldn’t find a way to get enough hands on her and slow her down,” coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said of the 6-foot-8 Rettke.
The Badgers also had three other players chip in at least eight kills in the match.
Even with the impressive Wisconsin attack, Badger coach Kelly Sheffield was impressed by Iowa State’s defense.
“There were so many balls that go down against so many other teams but they stayed up here and we had to stay in the rally,” Sheffield said.
Relentless defense is what Iowa State and this senior class has built its name on.
“That’s our identity and we take a lot of pride in that,” Johnson-Lynch said. “It puts a lot of pressure on teams. I hope that’s what they felt, pressure from our defense. I thought it was really good – I still think we could’ve made a few more plays.”
Even in the loss, senior Samara West was happy with the way Iowa State competed.
“It’s amazing just to play at Hilton one last time,” West said. “The crowd was amazing. Playing with my team, we battled a lot. Wisconsin, we just let them get on runs. I feel like if we didn’t let them go one runs, we would be right there with them.”
Middle blocker Grace Lazard said they tried to be relentless on the block, but Wisconsin made it tough by distributing the ball all over the court.
But Lazard will take the lessons she learned from the four seniors on this team and carry it into next season.
“Just keep going, no matter what you go through – injuries and everything,” Lazard said. “Being on a team is hard – it’s not easy. You’re with the same people every day and you have to figure out a way to make it work and keep going.
“We’re going to continue this legacy. Especially me going into my senior year, I want to emphasize that we’re not giving up, we’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep going all the way until there’s nothing left.”
Johnson-Lynch has led the Cyclones to five Sweet 16s and two Elite Eights. But she still has more on her “bucket list” that she hopes to accomplish.
“Win a conference championship, get to the final four and compete for a national championship – that’s on our bucket list,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Those are the things that are left for us and we’re going to keep clawing and scratching and doing everything we absolutely can to achieve those things. I’m very excited over the next several years to go after those goals.”