By Bradley DePrez
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Taylor Goetz, a senior on the Iowa State volleyball team, has emerged as a leader and defensive specialist for head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch’s program this season. Goetz had to overcome much adversity, including a short stint of not being a part of the ISU volleyball team, to reach the status that she is at now.
As a freshman, Goetz stepped onto Iowa State’s campus as an extremely accomplished prep-star at Ankeny High School in Ankeny, Iowa. There she garnered two state championships, was named to the Under Armour All-American watch list and was an open and individual national qualifier.
Despite all the accolades that followed Goetz to Ames, she found herself lost in the mix and saw very little court time that first year.
“She was a player that really struggled to contribute her first few years,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She hasn’t always had it easy.”
In her first season as a Cyclone, Goetz saw minimal playing time, getting on the court in only four competitive matches against early season opponents.
Her second season as a member of the ISU volleyball team proved to be more of the same. Goetz once again saw very little floor time and only got playing time in six matches during that season.
After the Cyclones got beat by Stanford in the 2012 Sweet 16, Goetz left the Iowa State volleyball program.
However, Johnson-Lynch felt like there was still something more that she could get out of Goetz.
“She’s the ideal teammate,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s such a positive, energetic, hardworking role-model for the younger players. That’s a big reason why we asked her back.”
During the off-season between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Goetz received notification that she was once again wanted on the Iowa State volleyball team.
“At the end of the spring, Christy e-mailed me and talked to me about a few options about joining the team,” Goetz said. “I felt like it was the best decision for me to re-join the team.”
Johnson-Lynch not only saw Goetz as someone who could contribute to her team on the court, but also as a necessity for her locker room.
“We wanted more players with her kind of character,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We wanted to add someone that would make good decisions, was a good student and just understood what it meant to be a student-athlete.”
Goetz was reinstated onto the team, and began preparing for the 2013 season.
Like all athletes that experience a break in competition, whether it’s four years or in Goetz’s case, four months, there are some kinks that need to be worked out before regaining what might have been lost.
“One of the hardest things was just getting as many touches on the ball as I could and kind of tightening up my skills,” Goetz said.
Luckily for Goetz, her teammates and her coaching staff were more than happy to see her return to the squad.
“Other than myself, she’s the only senior, so it was nice to have her back,” teammate Victoria Hurtt said. “Besides, that’s my homie, so of course I was happy to have her back.”
Being part of the team before, Goetz knew what the Iowa State volleyball program was like and she knew that being acclimated with her old teammates off the court would be the least of her worries.
“One of the easiest parts about coming back was how welcoming the team was,” Goetz said. “These are great girls, and they welcomed me with open arms. I really appreciated that.”
After all was said and done that off-season, it was time to take to the floor at Hilton Coliseum again, and for Goetz to show that she could still contribute to the team on the court.
As a junior, Goetz played in more matches than she had in her first two seasons combined. Goetz appeared in 13 matches and a total of 26 sets during the 2013 season. She recorded her first career start against West Virginia where she recorded 32 assists and 12 digs en route to a 3-0 sweep of the Mountaineers.
A successful junior campaign solidified Goetz’s spot as a mainstay on the Iowa State volleyball team. Coming into her senior year, it was time for her to step up and be a leader for Johnson-Lynch.
“Each year, there are different opportunities for leadership,” Goetz said. “This year, I just try to come into the gym and set the tone for my teammates.”
Goetz has gone from a player that barely saw the court her first two seasons in an Iowa State jersey, to someone that Johnson-Lynch sees as a pivotal part of her team.
“She’s really worked hard to contribute as a passer and a defender,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She has a tough serve and has had good passing numbers all season.”
She has been an excellent defender for the Cyclones this season. Her 132 total digs is third-most on the team, and her 2.16 digs per set is second to only Caitlin Nolan, who leads the Big 12 with 5.72 digs per set. She has appeared in every match for Iowa State this season, and Johnson-Lynch is very pleased with her play.
“She’s the ideal teammate,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She’s a defensive specialist. You have to pass, serve and dig. She does all three of those very well.”