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Volleyball heads to Iowa State

Oct. 28, 2005

by RIAZ DHANANI and DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD, sports editor and reporter

The Lady Bear volleyball team looks to stretch its win-streak to four Saturday when it travels to Ames, Iowa to take on the Cyclones of Iowa State University.

When these two teams met for the first time this season on Sept. 21, the Bears fell 3-1 (29-31, 19-30, 30-21, 23-30), but for the Bears, it was a winnable match.

File photo
Junior outside hitter Nicole LeBlanc prepares to spike a ball over the net against No. 20 Kansas State Oct. 15 at the Ferrell Special Events Center. The Lady Bears blew a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2.
Following a loss to No. 20 Kansas State University on Oct. 15, the Bears have strung together three wins in a row.

Coaches and players said the loss to Kansas State has played a major factor in the team's recent success.

"It matures you. I think that was a turning point and we are going to finish really strong," junior captain Nicole LeBlanc said.

Head Coach Jim Barnes said the Kansas State loss built momentum for the season.

"That's right when we started feeling like we were getting healthy," Barnes said. "I think it convinced the girls that we can play at this level."

The Bears are a different team now than they were in September. The health of Big 12 player of the week Desiree Guilliard-Young has also played a big role in the team's win streak.

"(Gulliard-Young) is a big presence," Barnes said. "Overall we are the No. 1 defense in the Big 12, and she has a lot to do with it. Her blocking and her size intimidates opponents and takes the team to another level."

Barnes said his team could make a big run in the second half of conference play, and that it should begin with Saturday's game.

"The (Iowa State) matchup is really good for us," Barnes said. "They're a real solid team that doesn't make many mistakes, but they're not very athletic. We're extremely athletic, and if we don't make many errors, this is a team we should beat."

LeBlanc is confident the team will be better prepared this time around for Iowa State.

"The first time we played them we were a little shorthanded, but that's an excuse," junior captain Nicole LeBlanc said. "We could have beat them anyway."

The surging Bears could make big strides toward their goal of finishing the season strong and making the NCAA tournament with a good match against Iowa State.

With a win on Saturday, the Bears would improve their record to 14-10 on the season and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

"Now that we are healthy, we are a really good team." Barnes said. "And I know they believe it. Right now the girls are confident that they can compete with anyone in this league."