Practice time has been scarce for Wichita State’s volleyball team this season. So Monday’s exhibition against the under-23 Italian national team came at an opportune time for coach Chris Lamb.
He wanted to get outside hitters Mary Ashton Floyd and Jaclyn Roddy swings against good competition and did so in the 3-2 loss. The scores (20-22, 21-16, 21-10, 21-15, 20-22) were of little consequence in the scrimmage, which Lamb scheduled for five sets regardless of the outcome. He rested most of his starters, save setter Chelsey Feekin and his back-row defenders, after the first two sets.
Floyd, a sophomore, played in four sets and recorded eight kills and nine errors. Roddy, a redshirt freshman, had 12 kills and hit .233. Floyd suffered from some tough matchup against taller opponents, so Lamb focused more on the experience than the numbers. He is looking for scoring on the left and both might be able to help. Floyd played in 10 of WSU’s first 54 sets; Roddy in two.
“Mary Ashton Floyd and Jaclyn Roddy are pushing to be out there on the floor,” Lamb said. “We haven’t had opportunities to feel like we were ready to make that switch yet. It’s been a long time between at-bats for these guys.”
Feekin, who redshirted and played behind Mary Elizabeth Hooper for two seasons, knows how important it is to get experience outside of practice.
“Practice is a lot different — there’s less stress,” Feekin said. “This gives them an opportunity for a real look at it.”
Italy’s Valentina Diouf, a 6-foot-7 attacker, recorded 13 kills and hit .273. Laura Partenio added 12 kills and nine digs.
WSU won the first set 22-20, playing most of its starters. It hit .250 and middle Elizabeth Field had six kills on eight swings. Roddy added four kills on six swings.
The Shockers led 7-5 and forced Italy, playing sluggishly, to take a timeout. The Shockers trailed 18-17 before Field’s kill started a 3-0 run. Tied 20-all, Feekin’s kill gave WSU a lead and it won the set on an attack error by Diouf.
Italy jumped to a 9-2 lead in the second set and cruised to a 21-16 win. Lamb went into his bench for the third set, a 21-10 win by Italy. In the fifth set, the Shockers led 5-0 and 7-2 before Italy, which sat several of its starters, rallied. Katie Reilly’s kill broke a 20-all tie and Floyd won the set with a kill.
The Italians finished their United States tour 4-0, with wins over Kansas, Kansas State and Tulsa. They defeated Tulsa on Friday and traveled to Wichita on Sunday. Their trip included a stop at Oliver Garden, where the players found humor in the American creation of fettuccine alfredo. They were scheduled to fly to Mexico on Tuesday, where they scrimmage the Dominican Republic in preparation for the under-23 World Championships.
The Shockers (13-3, 3-0 Missouri Valley Conference) will practice three times this week before playing Southern Illinois on Friday and Evansville on Saturday at Koch Arena.
Andrade, Mostrom honored — WSU senior middle Ashley Andrade earned MVC player of the week honors and freshman libero Dani Mostrom earned defensive player of the week.
Andrade averaged 4.14 kills and 1.14 blocks in wins over Northern Iowa and Drake. Mostrom averaged 5.57 digs in the matches, including a career-high 20 digs against Drake.