Wichita State freshman Emily Adney started playing on the right in Wednesday's volleyball practice. It's supposed to take more than two days to master a new position.
Not in Adney's case, at least not against last-place Bradley on Friday night at Koch Arena. She helped WSU sweep the Braves 25-20, 25-8, 25-12 with nine kills and a .750 hitting percentage.
"I've never played on the right side before, so it's new and I like it," she said.
So does coach Chris Lamb, who noticed Adney smoking winners past his defense in a drill. He watched long enough to conclude it wasn't a fluke.
"She was very comfortable," he said. "We weren't stopping her."
Adney isn't new to the lineup. She started the season playing well on the left. Recently, however, she fell out of the rotation. She didn't play during last weekend's road trip to Southern Illinois and Evansville. Moving to the right may get her back in the lineup permanently. She didn't commit an attack error on Friday and Lamb said she is just as efficient in practice.
"She's got a very loose shoulder," Lamb said. "She can contort her body in a way and rubber-arm that thing and still make great contact."
The Shockers (21-4, 12-3 Missouri Valley Conference) won their seventh straight match and head into tonight's showdown with first-place Northern Iowa with confidence. They didn't slop their way past an overmatched Bradley team. They dominated, compiling a .506 attack percentage and holding the Braves (9-20, 0-15) to .058.
WSU libero Melissa Granville totaled 15 digs, two fewer than Bradley. The serve-and-receive game ranked as Lamb's lone concern. He plans to address that in today's practice.
"It takes a lot of focus to play teams in the lower half of the conference," Granville said. "That was one of the biggest things for us, just coming in with fire."
Emily Stockman led WSU with 13 kills. Sarah McGee added nine and hit .818, just off her school-record of .833 set earlier this season.
Lamb thinks WSU is a much better team than a month ago when it lost 3-2 at Northern Iowa. The Panthers, who swept Missouri State on Friday, have won 23 straight matches. UNI's win clinched at least a share of the MVC title and put WSU alone in second place.
On Oct. 16, injuries and slumps forced Lamb to throw makeshift lineups at UNI. WSU lost the first two sets before winning the next two and losing 18-16 in the final.
"From a preparation standpoint, I feel better," Lamb said. "I really enjoyed my team this week in practice. I felt like they were very in tune, very eager and very engaged."
Notes — Seniors Stockman, Granville, Kim Wadsworth, Stephanie Tokarz and Katie Niggemeyer play their final home match tonight. Lindsey Eckenrode, also a senior, is redshirting this season with an injury. WSU is 103-19 the past four seasons, with two MVC titles and two trips to the NCAA Tournament.... WSU has won 10 of the past 12 meetings against Northern Iowa, but trails in the series 38-11-1.