Outside hitter Sam Sanders had no idea if or when she might play volleyball on Friday for Wichita State.
So she was as surprised as anyone when coach Chris Lamb sent her in late in the second set. Once she got in, Sanders played like someone who won't be going back to the bench soon in WSU's 25-16, 25-18, 25-13 win over Stephen F. Austin in the Shocker Classic at Koch Arena.
She scored from the right and the left, recording eight kills and a .538 attack percentage in a little more than one set. She gave the Shockers (3-1) a shot of emotion with her powerful swing and enthusiasm.
In all, it was a satisfying home debut for the redshirt freshman.
"Nerve-racking, because I just got thrown in there," Sanders said. "But I went out there and proved myself, what I've been working hard for."
Sanders ended the second set by scoring two of WSU's final three points on kills. She opened the third set with a smash and made it 5-0 with another kill, on her way to six for the set.
"She's one of the best athletes around," Lamb said. "There's going to be a day when Sam can do anything she wants on the volleyball court."
Sanders later contributed a kill for a 13-9 lead and combined on a block with Sarah McGee to put WSU up 14-9. Her final kill made it 16-10, part of a 5-1 run that forced Stephen F. Austin (2-4) to call timeout, down 17-10.
"Her energy and firepower is just great on the court," junior setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper said. "We had a lot of new people, sporadically, randomly being thrown in there. I could read on there faces how terrified they were."
Alyssa Heath, also a redshirt freshman, played her first set as a Shocker and recorded three kills and no errors. Sophomore middle Jada Witham, who played sparingly last weekend, and redshirt freshman Elizabeth Field both added four kills.
Junior Camri Zwiesler, a newcomer who is already counted on for big numbers, led WSU with 13 kills with a .440 attack percentage.
"I was a little bummed that some of the things we spent most of our time on in practice didn't really show up," Lamb said. "And I didn't really see a reason for it. But here's what I liked — we made adjustments and we made adjustments with young people."
WSU held SFA to negative-061 attack percentage, lowering its season average to .066. The Shockers, who unveiled their 2009 NCAA Tournament banner, recorded eight service aces and nine service errors.
Worth noting — The teams and fans remembered WSU baseball player Mitch Caster with a moment of silence before the match. Caster, a senior, was killed in a car accident late last month. . . WSU unveiled its 2009 NCAA Tournament banner.