Nineteen kills for Wichita State middle Elizabeth Field, and it seemed like she pumped her fist and yelled after every one. It looked as if she won the Super Bowl, coach Chris Lamb said.
Nope. Field is a San Francisco Giants fan. She channeled World Series enthusiasm to help the Shockers defeat Missouri State 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17) on Friday night at Koch Arena.
Everybody seemed extra pumped up for the Shockers, including the crowd of 3,825, second-largest of the season. Lamb liked the energy and he loved the result in what he called a critical victory.
“I told the girls tonight there, on paper, were bigger wins this year, but this, in a lot of ways for me, is the most important win of the year,” Lamb said. “This had to happen for us to put that (NCAA) resume together.”
WSU (19-7, 12-4 Missouri Valley Conference) handled the Bears (15-13, 9-7) with a revamped lineup. Right-side Sam Sanders missed her third straight match with nerve pain her right shoulder. Senior Emily Adney moved from the left to the right to break out of a slump and freshman Katie Reilly replaced her.
“We had to roll the dice and try a few things,” Lamb said. “A good part of that worked out.”
Field, in her familiar role in the middle, matched her career-high with 19 kills, eight in the crucial third set, and hit .571, a conference best for her. WSU’s offense muddled through the first two sets, hitting .178 and .100. When Field got going in the third set, so did the Shockers. They finished hitting .359 and .406 in the final two sets.
“When the middles connect, everything opens up,” Reilly said.
Field reached double figures in kills three times previously in MVC play. Setter Chelsey Feekin helped spread out the blockers with her attacks and that helped Field get free on slides and quicks in the middle.
“Chelsey (Feekin) and I were connecting very well,” Field said. “She was setting me great balls and we were doing very well in transition.”
Field, from Windsor, Calif., got hot midway through the third set. She scored three points during a run that bumped the lead from 9-7 to 12-8 and the Shockers pulled away. Jackie Church’s ace made it 16-10.
The Bears cut the lead to 16-14 before a kill by Feekin ended the run. Two kills by middle Ashley Andrade upped the lead to 21-15.
The Shockers took a 6-1 lead in the fourth set, forcing an MSU timeout. Back-to-back kills by Field made it 10-3. After MSU cut the deficit to 14-10, Adney’s kill started the decisive run that gave the Shockers 20-14 lead.
MSU left-side hitter Olivia Brand punched a hole in the scouting report, totaling 23 kills and hitting .362. She had 14 in the first two sets before the Shockers devoted more blockers and limited her success in the final two.
“Honestly, we put little time into her,” Lamb said. “We really liked what we saw from them in the middle. It was just something we weren’t really expecting.”
Adney added 11 kills and hit .205. Reilly also had 11 kills, a career-high, and a .458 attack percentage.