Volleyball: ISU Comes Back To Beat UNC, Advances To Sweet 16

By Rob Gray, Reporter

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By Grant Burkhardt

AMES, Iowa — Two nights, two rousing comebacks.

One long exhale for the Iowa State women’s volleyball team — and another trip to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

“Once again, this was just a grind it out, figure out how to win (match),” said Cyclone coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, whose team outlasted North Carolina in five sets (25-22, 18-25, 23-25, 25-16, 15-13) to win a tense second-round match before an amped up crowd of 2,702 at Hilton Coliseum. “A lot of good performances.”

The Cyclones (22-7) won a school-record 12th straight match and advanced at least to the regional semifinals for the fifth time in the past sixth seasons.

Thursday, ISU rebounded from being down 2-1 to Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne.

“I figured if we could get it to a fifth game, we’ve got it,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Not that I wasn’t stressed out and nervous.”

Cyclone junior Tenisha Matlock notched a career-high four solo blocks at key times and led her team in kills with 12.

“Christy helped me this week, reminding me to be dynamic in everything I do,” said Matlock, who hit .379 in the match.

Andie Malloy added 11 kills — with eight coming in the first game.

Former Williamsburg standout Mackenzie Bigbee notched 10 kills, along with Victoria Hurtt.

ISU recorded a season-high eight blocks and overcame low hitting percentages in two sets, while finishing at .300 or better while winning the final two.

“Tremendous,” Johnson-Lynch said of the blocks.

The Cyclones also out-dug the Tarheels, 89-73.

Former Kennedy star Kristen Hahn recorded a match-high 28 digs along with 10 assists.

“We just were relentless,” said Hahn, a two-time Big 12 libero of the year. “We trust each other so much and have total faith in each other. We know if there’s a ball around us we’re going to get it up.”

Iowa State won a tense opening set, 25-22.

Jamie Straube used a strategically placed tip kill to put away the set, which featured eight ties.

The Tarheels (26-6) seized control of the second set early, building leads of 10-5 and 21-11 before winning, 25-18.

The Cyclones struggled attacking in set two, managing just a .121 hitting percentage.

It got worse in the third set, where ISU dipped to .024 on the attack, and fell behind 2-1.

“It looked pretty dismal there for a while,” Johnson-Lynch said.

Not in the end — thanks in part to the fan support.

“Same as last night, they helped carry us through,” Hahn said.

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