Wichita State Shockers

Shockers hope to learn from losses

Trust the scouting report. Wichita State's volleyball players say they learned their lesson.

The Shockers play Missouri State tonight at Koch Arena in a rematch of a 3-2 Bears win on Sept. 25. That loss started WSU on a slump that knocked it out of the national rankings and into third place in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Shockers (15-4, 6-3 MVC) think they know what went wrong in Springfield.

"We learned that we need to follow the scouting report," WSU setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper said. "The errors that we made, we're not going to make them this time."

MSU (15-5, 8-1) dominated sets 4 and 5, winning 25-18 and 15-6. The Bears hit .289 for the match, by far the best attack percentage against WSU this season. They hit .308 in the fourth set and .467 in the fifth.

In coach Chris Lamb's mind, that loss started the Shockers on a tough stretch. Nagging injuries to players such as Sarah McGee, Katie Niggemeyer and Stephanie Tokarz made it tougher.

"That was the beginning of our playing tired, playing uninspired," Lamb said.

A lot of the damage came from the middle, where WSU's blockers gave the Bears too many open lanes. Hooper ended up defending too many attacks. Tonight, WSU would like to channel those attacks to other defenders.

"They blew us up in the middle," WSU defensive specialist Jackie Church said. "We knew what was coming, but the scouting report really broke down during the game."

The Bears won the serving game. They aced WSU six times and had a mere three errors. WSU recorded one ace and 15 errors.

"They dominated us at the serving line," Lamb said. "And they dominated us on the back row."

The Shockers are 4-3 since the loss to MSU, with a surprising loss at Creighton and last week's loss at Northern Iowa.

"We've been sitting back a little bit and waiting for someone to give us the green light and tell us we can turn it on," Lamb said. "We need to turn it on."

The match at Northern Iowa went five sets and Lamb liked the way the Shockers rallied. In previous matches, the Shockers faded once they fell behind. Against UNI, the Shockers trailed 22-18 and 24-22 in the first set before losing 33-31. In the fifth set, UNI led 14-12. WSU took the lead 15-14 before losing 18-16.

"It felt like the fight we had last year," Church said. "It's being really scrappy and making plays. We definitely sided out a lot better against Northern Iowa than we have this whole season."