Wichita State's volleyball team trailed by four points midway through the fifth set, usually a killer in the race to 15.
A month ago, maybe the Shockers give in and take the loss. On Friday, WSU pulled off an improbable comeback to defeat Creighton 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 21-25, 15-13) at Koch Arena.
"Things went our way, and I think that's home-court advantage," WSU libero Jackie Church said. "It helped us. We fed off that energy."
WSU (17-5, 10-3 Missouri Valley Conference) took possession of second place from Creighton (15-9, 10-4) and also gained a match on fourth-place Missouri State, a four-set loser to Drake at home. The Shockers play host to Drake tonight, while Creighton travels to Missouri State.
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The Shockers survived a big deficit from the service line against Creighton. The Bluejays targeted Sarah Waldorf, who had trouble handling their serves. Coach Chris Lamb installed Church at libero for the third set, a move that paid off immediately. In the second set, Creighton recorded four aces and flustered the Shockers. For the match, Creighton totaled eight aces to one for WSU.
With Church at libero, WSU dominated the third set. Her serve-receive calmed the team and her serving sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Shockers a 13-6 lead.
"Against a great serving team like that, I have to make that decision," Lamb said.
With Church at libero, Creighton recorded one ace in third set, two in the fourth and none in the fifth.
"I just try to stay calm and focused at the serve-receive line," she said. "They like to go to our seams, in between players. We wanted to take a stab (into the seam) right when they're tossing the ball, so we could get in that seam and they wouldn't see us."
Church finished with 20 digs, nine in the fifth set. Outside hitter Emily Adney played well in the back row with a career-high 24 digs. Waldorf, moved to defensive specialist, contributed five digs in the fourth set.
Church started the fifth set with WSU's lone ace.
Things went bad from there and the Bluejays led 6-3 and 9-5. After a WSU timeout, the Shockers rallied and the Bluejays couldn't close the deal. An attack error by Heather Thorson started WSU's 5-0 run. A service error by Thorson gave WSU an 11-10 lead and the Shockers never trailed again. McGee's kill gave WSU a 14-11 lead and she finished off the match with her 12th of the night. The Shockers avoided a second five-set loss to Creighton, a team they particularly dislike taking defeat from.
"It just kind of hit us that we had to win," McGee said. "It was like redemption, because we didn't want to lose again to this team."
Adney and Camri Zwiesler led WSU with 16 kills apiece. Amanda Backes added 10 and setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper six with a .385 attack percentage.
"I thought we needed to stick with them in the serve-and-pass game to win," Lamb said. "And we did not. But we won, and it's because we got production from four kids in double figures with kills and that hasn't happened all year."