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WVU Rallies for Five-Set Victory over ISU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Nov. 6, 2020) – A trio of Mountaineers finished with double-digit kills, as the West Virginia University volleyball team took a 3-2 win from Iowa State on Friday evening, at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown. The Mountaineers (6-5) won the match over the Cyclones (2-7) in set scores of 25-21, 25-15, 25-27, 11-25 and 15-10.

With the win, West Virginia ties its six-match conference win total from 2014 and 2017 – the squad’s highest win total since joining the Big 12 in 2012. WVU also defeated ISU for the first time since 1998.

“We kept fighting,” sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara said. “Our team is resilient, and Iowa State is a really good team. We knew that they weren’t just going to back down. We had our backs against the wall. The fourth set was a little dicey there. We got squirrelly. We fought through the fifth though, and I’m glad we won. I’m proud of the way they fought back, and I told them that in the locker room. After the fourth, I said ‘hey, it’s 0-0 now.’ They did a nice job of siding out and making some plays down the stretch.”

Senior middle blocker Briana Lynch paved the way for WVU, registering 14 kills on 32 attacks for a team-high .344 hitting efficiency. The Johns Creek, Georgia, native also led the team’s blocking efforts with a total of seven block assists on the evening.  

Junior outside hitter Natali Petrova added 11 kills and a trio of digs to the scoresheet, followed by classmate Kristin Lux with 10 swings and a pair of block assists to round out the Mountaineers in double figures. 

Additionally, junior setter Lacey Zerwas recorded her second consecutive double-double of the season, dishing out 46 of the team’s 52 assists to go along with 11 digs.

Senior libero Alexa Hasting led WVU’s floor defense with 17 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Natalie Winter was the third Mountaineer in double digits at 14, good for a career high. Senior defensive specialist Lindsay Proctor tied Zerwas with 11 digs, while freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Skye Stokes dug 10 balls to cap the Mountaineers in double figures defensively.

Sophomore middle blocker Emmy Ogogor also posted four block assists in the match. Hasting added a pair of service aces, while Winter and Proctor each had one.

West Virginia, who is now 4-2 in five-set matches this season, hit .117 with 56 kills and eight team blocks. Led by Eleanor Holthaus’s 12 kills, Iowa State hit .146 with 10 team blocks and 48 kills.

Hitting .212 with 12 kills in the first set, the Mountaineers took a 25-21 win over the Cyclones. Tied at 15-all, WVU scored four of the next five points for the lead and never looked back. Iowa State took a timeout, but kills from redshirt senior middle blocker Audrey Adams and Petrova sent ISU into another timeout, trailing 21-18. The Cyclones capitalized on a pair of Mountaineer miscues out of the stoppage, but a late kill from Lynch helped WVU maintain its three-point edge at 23-20. An ISU attacking error on the next serve brought the Mountaineers to set point, as Lux laid down a kill for the first-set victory and 1-0 lead in the match.

West Virginia used a series of scoring runs to jump out to a 20-12 lead in the second set. The Cyclones cut their deficit to seven with a pair of kills, but a trio of ISU attacking errors helped the Mountaineers reach set point at 24-14. Iowa State found the floor to extend the set, but Stokes fired one from the back row for the 25-15 victory and 2-0 match advantage.

West Virginia was unable to maintain its momentum though, eventually dropping the third and fourth set, as Iowa State forced a fifth.

A pair of 3-0 scoring streaks put WVU on top midway through the final set. However, ISU strung together three straight points of its own to come within two at 10-8. West Virginia called a timeout to regroup, as Lynch placed one through the blockers out of the break. The Mountaineers then teamed up for a pair of blocks, as another kill from Lynch brought WVU to match point at 14-9. ISU found the floor to extend the set, but a big swing from Petrova helped the Mountaineers secure the fifth-set victory and walk away with a 3-2 win.

West Virginia returns to the court on Saturday afternoon for another match against Iowa State. First serve is set for 4 p.m. ET inside the WVU Coliseum.

Credit: Amy Salvatore – WVU Sports

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