Left or right doesn’t matter much to Wichita State volleyball player Sam Sanders. Playing in Texas, however, feels perfect.
Sanders, a junior from Rhome, Texas, earned MVP honors in last weekend’s SMU Classic and helped the Shockers to a 3-0 record. Just as memorably, her mother and father took advantage of a rare opportunity to see her play in person.
After the final match against Texas State, she cried and hugged her father, Dennis Sanders. Julie Sanders, her mother, attended an earlier match against SMU, the first time she watched her daughter in a regular-season match.
“It was just a great feeling,” she said. “It was good being back home and doing that for my family.”
WSU (6-3) opens Missouri Valley Conference play on Friday at Drake (0-9) and Saturday at Creighton (8-1). Sanders will complement Emily Adney on the left side while coach Chris Lamb searches for a solution on the right.
Sanders has played both this season and moving her to the left during the tournament paid off big.
“She was really consistent, smooth and in control,” Lamb said. “She really hasn’t spend a lot of time out there, on the left side, so it was nice to see it.”
Sanders recorded a career-high 17 kills in the sweep of Texas State, hitting .371. For the tournament, she averaged 3.17 kills and 3.54 points with a .421 attack percentage. The Shockers needed someone to swing aggressively, while limiting mistakes, on the left. Sanders made the most of her swings, committing a mere five errors in three matches.
“I felt good about myself and the swings I was taking,” she said. “I like being on the right, just because I’ve trained at that more, but I’m getting more comfortable on the left and more confident in my swings. I’m seeing the block more.”
If Sanders remains on the left, Lamb will continue to audition for right-side hitters. Freshmen Katie Reilly and Ashlyn Driskill are enduring the ups and downs of college volleyball. Middle blocker Elizabeth Field can help at that position.
“We’re trying to find the right balance for our team,” Lamb said. “We’re asking Elizabeth Field to do things she hasn’t done before, so we’re still searching for the way we want to play.”
Notes — WSU setter Chelsey Feekin is hitting .452, second in the MVC. Creighton middle Kellie Browning (.446) is third, followed by WSU middle Ashley Andrade (.335) and Creighton setter Megan Bober (.333). Browning leads the Valley with an average of 1.71 blocks a set.… Drake ranks last in the MVC in attack percentage (.106), kills (10.50 a set) and assists (9.63).… WSU has won 23 straight matches against Drake, its longest current streak against a conference opponent. WSU won 20 in three sets.