A home loss to Portland caused many Wichita State volleyball players to need to regroup mentally.
Nobody won the mind game more convincingly than sophomore outside hitter Emily Adney. After the Portland match, coach Chris Lamb forcefully told her the Shockers needed more production. One week later, she was named to the all-tournament team at the BYU Invitational after totaling 39 kills and a mere eight errors in three matches. She set a career high with 17 kills (one error) in Saturday's sweep of Loyola Marymount.
"The loss to Portland really got my head straight," she said. "Realizing that I've got to step up and do my job, and I'm here for a reason."
Adney and the Shockers (6-2) can build on the 3-0 weekend with tonight's match against SMU (7-2) at Koch Arena. It is WSU's final regular-season non-conference match. After two up-and-down weekends, the Shockers want to believe sweeps of Houston and Loyola Marymount and a 3-1 win over Brigham Young represent the real thing.
"It was like a whole different team," setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper said. "I think those two losses lingered in us, and we weren't going to let it happen again. We needed to prove to ourselves, and our coaches, that we can do this."
WSU's offensive efficiency stands out as the biggest improvement. The Shockers hit .356, .342 and .213 in the three matches, raising their season attack percentage from .189 to .225.
"It was nice that it was a weekend where we were strong on the pins," Lamb said. "In the middle, although it wasn't busy, at least it produced when we went there."
Junior left Camri Zwiesler continued her production, hitting .285 and earning tournament MVP honors. Adney's outburst gave the Shockers another strong option, one they lacked much of the season. After the loss to Portland, she met with Lamb and they talked confidence. For whatever reason, she needed an injection of positive thoughts.
"She said she had a nice chat with herself about confidence," Lamb said. "She spent a week talking to herself about why she's here and why everybody thinks she's good. Sometimes it's just that simple."
Adney hit .400 against Loyola Marymount and .593 against Houston. Just like that, Lamb got the production he complained about missing after the loss to Portland.
"I get really hard on myself, so it was really good to have that talk with Lambo," Adney said. "In the Portland match, I wasn't going up and swinging. I was playing it safe. This weekend I went up and played how I know how to play, hitting as hard as I can, hitting with range, seeing the block."
Adney's change thrilled Hooper.
"It was scenario where she was in her own head, trying too hard," Hooper said. "After the Portland weekend, in the locker room, when Lambo kind of got in her face, she realized she wasn't going to go with that any more. It was whole different mindset this weekend."