Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb cleared his bench and turned Saturday's sweep over Indiana State into a tear-jerker.
Late in the first set, he sent in senior outside hitter Lindsey Eckenrode, her first time on the court since the 2008 season. When Eckenrode came back in the third set to record a kill, well, anybody who knows her probably got a little misty.
She did. Her teammates certainly did. Many of the Shocker fans at Koch Arena understood and gave Eckenrode a nice hand. After the match, her teammates hugged her and nobody could look at her without tearing up a little.
Her return highlighted an otherwise routine 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-16) win over Indiana State, WSU's 16th straight over the Sycamores.
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"What made it so special is my teammates," she said, trying to hold back tears. "I could hear them screaming, and that was really special."
Lamb expected Eckenrode to play a leading role last season. Then a knee injury sidelined her all season. She rehabbed furiously and looked ahead of schedule in the spring. This fall, however, she remains a step slow and hasn't broken into the lineup.
"I almost cried," Lamb said. "Any time I get a chance to get her in there I want to do it. I think a lot of people understand an (anterior cruciate ligament) injury is going to cost you a season. I don't think anybody expected it to be two."
Lamb isn't giving up on Eckenrode playing a bigger role this season. For now, her contributions come in practice where she helps the youngsters learn Shocker volleyball.
"We're still waiting for that burst," he said. "I've been told by people that one day it just clicks. We're waiting for that one day, because Lindsey is running out of those one days."
Eckenrode didn't expect to get the call. When Lamb yelled her name, she turned to watch freshman Lindsey Engel go in.
"You do rehab for a year and you want to play," she said. "It was so exciting just to get out there and play again."
Eckenrode wasn't the only Shocker who benefited from the blowout. Redshirt freshman Katie Vogts smashed in her first kill as a Shocker in the second set. Engel played in her second match this season. Haley Dotson made her WSU debut. Lamb played 16 people and the Shockers ran smoothly.
WSU (10-3, 3-1 Missouri Valley Conference) out-hit Indiana State (8-8, 0-3) .355-.152. The Shockers easily won the serve-and-passing game and their offense flowed because of it.
"Especially (Friday) against Illinois State, it was a big reason why we were able to win that one in five (sets)," libero Sarah Waldorf said. "Tonight, we were able to relax a little bit and work on some stuff we needed to work on."
The Shockers showed no signs of a letdown after Friday's difficult victory over Illinois State. WSU let Illinois State back into the match after leading 2-0 and didn't allow a repeat by a lesser opponent.
"We were proud of ourselves for battling (against Illinois State) and we knew it shouldn't have been so close," Waldorf said. "We were talking in the locker room that there wouldn't be de(acu)ja(gra) vu and we were going to get this one in three."
Emily Adney recorded nine kills and hit .500. Camri Zwiesler also had nine kills with a hitting percentage of .474. Waldorf contributed 15 digs and an ace.
Lamb said red shirt freshman Sam Sanders, who has not played since Sept. 11 is day-to-day with a sprained thumb.