Saturday’s loss at Northern Iowa showed Wichita State’s volleyball team it couldn’t lean so heavily on its left-side hitters. Wednesday’s win at Oklahoma showed the Shockers how well they can play when the offense finds a better balance.
“We have to get the ball off of our outside hitters,” coach Chris Lamb said. “(Emily) Adney can’t be asked to hit 67 balls in four games. (Ashlyn) Driskill can’t be asked to hit 40 balls in four games. Sixty-two percent of our offense came from two people (against Northern Iowa).”
Lamb’s view of his offense sounded much happier after Wednesday’s 3-1 win. Right-side hitter Sam Sanders tied her career-high with 17 kills and hit .342. OU’s defense kept the middle blockers from big numbers, but they improved their production from the previous game.
The Shockers (11-5, 4-2 Missouri Valley Conference) return to conference play this weekend at Koch Arena against Illinois State (9-6, 3-2) on Friday and Indiana State (3-12, 1-4) on Saturday.
The Shockers departed McCasland Field House saying they should play that way all the time.
“We had way better balance (Wednesday),” setter Chelsey Feekin said. “Our passing was much better. We were just a lot more comfortable.”
The Shockers worked on finding that balance early in the week, trying to sharpen their routes to the ball and improve their spacing along the front row to spread out blockers.
“We’ve only been scoring with our lefts, and Lambo’s been on our case about how we need to get the middles going and the rights,” Sanders said. “He was right. The passers really helped out a lot. It’s hard to run that offense middle and right if you don’t have a good pass.”
Feekin contributed eight kills, hitting .571, to help confuse OU blockers. More important, she gave her hitters a steady diet of well-timed sets against a solo block.
“It was a huge stepping-stone for her,” middle Ashley Andrade said. “Lambo congratulated her in the locker room and said she was super-smart and knew exactly what was going on.”
Worth noting — Illinois State leads the MVC in opponent hitting percentage, .145. It is second in blocks (2.72 a set) and fourth in digs (16.36).… Redbirds middle Emily Schneider ranks seventh in the MVC in attack percentge (.298) and fifth in blocks (1.18 a set). Middle LeighAnn Hranka ranks third in blocks (1.38).… Feekin continues to lead the MVC in attack percentage at .472. Andrade is sixth at .320.… The Shockers carry an eight-match win streak over the Redbirds into Friday’s match. They have beaten Indiana State 20 consecutive times, the last five in three sets.… Indiana State’s Shea Doran ranks second in the Valley with an average of 3.74 kills a set.