Perhaps you consider yourself a plugged-in follower of Wichita State volleyball. You know which players go where and when and why — and then you're watching a match and coach Chris Lambs blindsides you with Ashley Andrade at a crucial point.
Don't feel bad. You didn't miss a chapter of Volleyball 101.
Andrade was just as surprised as you were when Lamb called her name with WSU trailing Illinois State 21-20 during the fourth set of last week's match. She didn't play in the previous three sets, no reason for Lamb to hesitate.
"To be honest, I had no idea what the score of the game was," Andrade, a redshirt freshman, said. "He yells your name and your heart (starts pounding), and you run up the line and you're like, 'I don't know what to do.' "
The Shockers (10-3, 3-1 Missouri Valley Conference) play at Missouri State (12-3, 3-1) tonight in a matchup of teams tied for second place. While it may be jarring, it shouldn't be much of a surprise when Lamb upsets the routine with an unexpected substitute.
Sometimes it's something he planned during the scouting report. Sometimes it's an impulse. Usually, the sub specializes at a skill the Shockers are lacking. Andrade entered the match against Illinois State, won 3-2 by WSU, to give the Shockers scoring in the middle. Her kill off a quick set tied it 22-all and she followed that with another kill to give WSU a one-point lead in a set it lost 28-26.
Lamb saw the Redbirds defending his weary outside hitters and wanted to give his offense a new threat.
"If you look at Games 2 and 3 against Illinois State, you would see we never ran the middle," Lamb said. "We knew Ashley would hit in the middle. Late in Game 4 and in Game 5 there were more kills in the middle in that short amount of time than there were in Games 2 and 3 combined."
In the fifth set, Lamb sent in Katie Vogts, another redshirt freshman, to serve with WSU down 3-1. Her ace started the Shockers on a four-point run that gave them the lead for good.
Lamb wanted to use Vogt's accurate serve to target weak passers. He also figured Vogt wouldn't be overwhelmed with the pressure of the fifth set.
"Ice in the veins — she doesn't get caught up in the moment," he said. "We wanted someone we knew could get it to a spot."
Vogts also gets caught off-guard, although she tries to watch the coaches and plan ahead. A week ago, WSU rolled Indiana State 3-0 and she expected to play in a blowout. It's more nerve-wracking and unexpected in a tension-filled match, such as the one against Illinois State.
"I can tell when they're talking and usually (assistant coach Jeff Sanders) is the one that's like, 'Hey, do we need a server for this girl?' " Vogts said.
Lamb may need to use all his weapons again tonight against the Bears. MSU has won four straight, including a sweep of Illinois State, since a loss to first-place Northern Iowa.
"They're a big, physical team," he said. "When they get comfortable, they're very, very good. We've got to keep them moving around."