Iowa State to Host 2014 AVCA Showcase
AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State volleyball program will be hosting the season-opening, 2014 American Volleyball Coaches Assoication (AVCA) Showcase at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones will open the season on Friday, August 29 at 6:30 p.m. when they host the Stanford Cardinal. ISU will then play again on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Florida State.
“We are excited to be part of this prestigious event,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “It is a great opportunity to get two top programs into Hilton Coliseum. I think it is going to be an exciting season for us, and to kick off the season against two teams of that caliber is a tremendous opportunity for us.”
This will be the second time ISU has participated in the AVCA Showcase. The Cyclones played in the 2010 version in Omaha, Nebraska, where Iowa State lost to Florida in four sets to start the season before coming back to defeat Kentucky in four sets.
Iowa State enters the 2014 season on the back of eighth-consecutive NCAA Volleyball Championship appearance. The Cyclones return the majority of its attacking players from last season’s squad, including 2013 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention Mackenzie Bigbee, 2012 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American Victoria Hurtt and 2013 unanimous Big 12 All-Freshman team selection Ciara Capezio. The Cyclones will have to replace players at both setter and libero, but have good candidates in the wings in Mississippi State transfer Suzanne Horner at setter and 2013 U.S. Junior National Team libero Caitlin Nolan, who will be filling the role of three-time All-American and U.S. National Team libero Kristen Hahn.
Stanford finished No. 5 in the final AVCA Division I Coaches Poll, finishing the season with a 27-6 record, 17-3 in the Pac 12. The Cardinal made it all the way to the Regional Final before falling to eventual national champions Penn State in five sets. The Cardinal return four AVCA All-Americans, led by rising junior Inky Ajanaku. The middle blocker recorded 291 kills at a .438 hitting percentage last season, ranking ninth in the NCAA in hitting efficiency. Stanford ranked fourth in the country in hitting percentage and blocks per set while ranking ninth in assists per set. Setter Madi Bugg, a rising junior, was a second-team All-American and Pac-12 Setter of the Year at 11.88 assists per set. The Cardinal also boast an outstanding libero in rising senior Kyle Gilbert, who posted 4.95 digs per set in 2013.
Florida State finished 2013 at No. 11 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The Seminoles advanced to the Regional Semifinals, shocking in-state rival Florida in Gainesville before falling to eventual national runners-up Wisconsin. Posting a 26-8 overall record, 17-3 in the ACC, FSU will have to replace a pair of hitters who earned AVCA Honorable Mention honors in Ashley Neff and Elise Walch. However, Florida State does return Elise’s sister Niclole Walch, a rising junior who led FSU with 447 kills at 3.58 per set in 2014. The Seminoles also welcome back All-ACC Second Team libero Katie Mosher.
The Cyclones last faced Stanford in the 2012 NCAA Regional Semifinals in Berkeley, California, where the Cardinal swept ISU. The last match-up between Iowa State and Florida State was also in 2012 on the opening weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Seminoles defeated the Cyclones in five sets. ISU and FSU played in the 2011 Regional Final in Minneapolis, with Florida State advancing to the National Semifinals in five sets.
Iowa State is hosting the AVCA Showcase in conjunction with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will host Florida State on Friday night in Lincoln, and Stanford on Sunday.
The AVCA Showcase will kick-off a big season of volleyball at Hilton Coliseum. Along with hosting a premier season-opening event, the road to the NCAA Volleyball Championship in Oklahoma City will go through Ames as Iowa State will be hosting a 2014 NCAA Regional Semifinals and Finals. Further details about tickets to the Regional Semifinals and Finals will be released later this summer.
Iowa State’s full 2014 schedule will be released next week. Information pertaining to season ticket renewals and new season ticket orders will be released in early June. The AVCA Showcase will be part of season ticket packages, but the NCAA Regional Semifinals and Finals will not.