Pitching a volleyball blindly over the head to a moving target seems like the most difficult task for a setter.
Wichita State’s Chelsey Feekin refutes that theory. Setting to her right-side hitters, known as attacking behind the setter, feels comfortable. That is particularly true in recent matches when she and Sam Sanders are on a hot streak together.
“Once you do it a lot, it’s not so weird to set it behind you,” Feekin said. “And Sam is really good at adjusting. Normally after I set it, even if I can’t see it, I’ll know if it’s wide or tight, or what’s wrong with it.”
The Shockers (17-6, 10-3 Missouri Valley Conference) travel to Indiana State (3-19, 1-11) on Friday and Illinois State (13-9, 7-5) on Saturday trying to keep pace with Valley leaders Creighton and Northern Iowa. Their outlook improves if Sanders can continue her production.
She recorded her best conference weekend with 12 kills and a .423 attack percentage in a loss to Northern Iowa and 13 kills and a .440 attack percentage while beating Bradley last week.
“We were struggling in that neck of the woods for awhile,” WSU coach Chris Lamb said. “We finally found some approach routes for her that she likes. It’s big.”
Shocker setters spend time each practice standing and pushing balls back over their head to a target, hoping those repetitions pay off. WSU is potent on the left with senior Emily Adney and rapidly improving freshman Ashlyn Driskill. When Sanders is at her best, WSU’s offense becomes more of a threat.
“Lambo’s been on us about scoring behind the setter,” Sanders said. “We’ve been working on that and it’s nice to see some results.”
Sanders has had plenty of big matches this season, highlighted by 17 kills in a win over Oklahoma. She didn’t contribute double-digit kills on back-to-back nights until last weekend.
“We’ve been working on it so much,” Feekin said. “Sam can jump so high that if she gets it over the block she can just roll it right down. It’s hard to defend the right side, because you have so much court.”
Worth noting — The Shockers swept Indiana State in early October with a .340 attack percentage, their second-best in conference matches. Adney led a balanced offense with 10 kills and Feekin added eight.… Feekin continues to lead the nation in attack percentage, as of Monday’s games, at .463.… WSU has won 21 straight matches over the Sycamores.… WSU defeated Illinois State 3-1 in the first meeting with Adney totaling 22 kills. Illinois State middle Brooklyn Hiafka had 13 kills with a .414 attack percentage.