Wichita State coach Chris Lamb’s first thought on spring volleyball is that his team’s most-honored player is getting better.
Senior-to-be Abbie Lehman, who already owns more All-American honors than any other Shocker in program history, is using the spring to run away from her comfort zone. She is a three-time honorable mention All-American and a three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference pick as a middle blocker.
“I am so proud of her for basically taking what she’s good at it and putting it to the side,” Lamb said. “It’s really neat when one of your best players is also maybe your most-improved player.”
Lehman, from Newton, is spending much of her spring hitting and blocking on the right, expanding her duties as a middle behind the setter and refining her back-row skills. No sport enjoys more time for experimentation than volleyball and Lehman is enthusiastically taking part.
The Shockers will scrimmage UMKC (10:30 a.m.) and Oklahoma (12:30 p.m.) on Saturday at Koch Arena to end their spring practices.
“It’s made me a more well-rounded volleyball player,” she said. “The last few weeks I’ve been working on only digging in my (individual drills) and back-row attacking. It’s really helped me grow as a passer and finding the ball on the sweet spot when I pass.”
When the Shockers play next fall, Lehman will line up as a middle, but a different kind of middle than in previous seasons. She may even play all six rotations.
“She’s playing defense, she’s hitting high balls, she’s hitting slides,” Lamb said. “These are things she wasn’t really about. It’s been awesome.”
Softball starts crucial trip — Wednesday’s split with Missouri State dropped the Shockers into third in the Missouri Valley Conference softball standings. If WSU is going to make a run at first place, it will have to do it away on the road.
WSU (27-15, 12-5 MVC) starts a seven-game trip on Saturday at fourth-place Southern Illinois (23-21, 10-7). The doubleheader begins at noon.
On Tuesday, the Shockers finish the series with Missouri State (22-16, 10-7) in Springfield. The swing concludes at second-place Northern Iowa (25-15, 13-4).
Women’s tennis one win away — WSU’s women’s tennis team can wrap up its ninth straight regular-season MVC title this weekend.
WSU (13-8, 5-0 MVC) plays second-place Illinois State (10-10, 4-1) at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Coleman Complex. The Shockers play Bradley (10-12, 1-4) at 1 p.m.
The Shockers have won 84 straight MVC duals, last losing in 2008.
WSU golf favored — The WSU men’s team earned seven first-place votes and is favored to win the Missouri Valley Conference golf tournament.
WSU totaled 79 points to finish ahead of Bradley (64 points, one first-place vote) in a poll of coaches. Defending champion Southern Illinois also recieved a first-place votes.
The tournament begins with 36 holes on Monday and concludes with 18 on Tuesday at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill.
The Shockers lead the MVC in the Golfstat team rankings.
Sophomore Yannick Emmert’s stroke average of 71.21 leads the MVC. Seinor Grant Bennett (72.73) is sixth.
WSU has won 14 of the past 20 MVC titles. SIU ended WSU’s streak of eight in a row last spring.
Volleyball at Koch Arena
- 10:30 a.m. — WSU vs. UMKC
- 11:30 a.m. — UMKC vs. Oklahoma
- 12:30 p.m. — WSU vs. Oklahoma
- Admission is free.