Wichita State is one win away from earning the Missouri Valley Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA volleyball tournament.
The third-seeded Shockers (22-8) defeated second-seeded Northern Iowa 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20) on Friday in the semifinals of the MVC Tournament at JQH Arena in Springfield, Mo. They snapped a 10-match losing streak to the Panthers (24-9).
WSU plays top-seeded Creighton on Saturday for the tournament title. The Shockers last won the tournament in 2004. Since then, they lost in the title match in 2005, 2009 and 2011. Creighton is making its second appearaance in the final after losing in 2010.
The Shockers may not need the automatic bid after beating the Panthers, who rank No. 43 in the NCAA power rankings (RPI). WSU, No. 44, improves to 3-6 against top 50 team and 10-7 against the top 100.
WSU hit .295 against UNI, again led by its middle blockers. Ashley Andrade recorded 13 kills and a .370 attack percentage. Elizabeth Field added 12 kills and hit .476. Right-side Emily Adney hit .278 with 11 kills. Setter Chelsey Feekin had nine kills, 44 assists and 13 digs.
WSU’s defense held UNI to a .183 attack percentage. Macy Ubben led UNI with 18 kills.
The Shockers hit .405 in the fourth set. Field sparked the crucial run with two kills that helepd WSU go up 18-14. UNI did not get closer than four points the rest of the way. A kill by Field made it 24-19. After a service error, Field scored again to end the match.
Adney helped the Shockers pull away in the first set. With WSU up 13-12, she scored and then scored again after a kill by Field. An attack error on UNI put WSU ahead 17-12. The Panthers cut the lead to 21-18 before Driskill’s skill and an attack error made it 23-18. The Shockers won it with a kill by Andrade and a Panthers attack error.
UNI led the second set 12-4. WSU rallied late and trailed 23-22 before UNI scored the final two points.
The Shockers used a 5-0 run to take control of the third set, going ahead 15-10 on four straight kills and an attack error. UNI closed to within 17-14 before WSU’s 3-1 run regained the momentum. Kills by Andrade ended the set.