Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb is looking at all options as he rebuilds his team this spring. The Shockers are playing with two teams in offseason tournaments so nobody gets left out.
"I think it's good for their brain," Lamb said. "Everybody gets to play. We're able to put two nice teams out there — each of these teams has big wins under their belt already."
Shocker fans will be able to watch all of the candidates for playing time today during WSU's tournament at Koch Arena. Lamb is dividing the teams evenly by experience and skill, one with returning setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper and one with redshirt freshman Chelsey Feekin as setter.
Lamb has a lot of spots to fill after the loss of five seniors, including outsider hitter Emily Stockman, an honorable mention All-American, and libero Melissa Granville. The Shockers went 26-7 in 2009, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season.
"Players have definitely improved, and we're getting more comfortable in our offense and defensive systems," he said. "But there's a lot of places where no one's running away with it, so I can't tell you I'm any closer to a starting lineup. A lot of people are pushing."
Feekin and middle blocker Elizabeth Field, also a redshirt freshman, are two newcomers making a good impression. Both were eager to jump into the spring after watching last fall.
"Obviously it's the spring, and teams aren't the way they were in the fall, but it gives that 'here's what Division I looks like with you on the court,' " Field said. "Not getting to play in the fall was hard, but I knew it was something that had to be done."
Feekin welcomed the chance to prepare last fall. She didn't feel ready to play.
"Especially being a setter, there was so much to learn," she said.
Lamb wants Field, from Windsor, Calif., to grow into a Sara Lungren-type, a player he can keep on the court for all six rotations. She is already a skilled blocker who understands Lamb's system.
"She's got an amazing motor," he said. "She may be a middle for four years. She may be a middle for one, and then on a (side). We're going to throw everything at her."
In her first look at college volleyball, Field quickly figured out she needs to let mistakes go and refocus for the next play.
"Not getting so upset when I make an error," she said. "I have to really learn once I make an error. to forget about it. They're not letting up. I can't let up. My teammates aren't letting up."
Feekin, from Papillion, Neb., helped her team to a win over Arizona State in one tournament.
"Chesley Feekin has got some moxie," Lamb said.
Lamb split Hooper and Feekin to give them time to develop chemistry with the hitters.
"There's like 21 girls you have to learn how to set to," Feekin said. "So it's figuring out how everyone likes to hit."
"We're not letting her throw herself around," Lamb said. "She makes plays near her. Get your eyes going again and your timing again. She's starting to get her legs back."