Up 16-8, Wichita State took firm control of the first set and, as it turned out, the volleyball match. The Shockers built that edge without a whole lot of sizzle from outside hitter Camri Zwiesler, a fact that delighted everybody.
The Shockers spent much of the non-conference schedule searching for offensive balance. Tuesday's 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-19) win over SMU at Koch Arena provided the latest evidence they are onto something.
"I love it," Zwiesler said. "I love being in the back row and just hanging out and getting some digs, watching (the setter) set our outsides and middles. It's a nice feeling."
Zwiesler did get rolling midway through that first set — by early in the second she had seven kills on nine swings with one error. The fact that other Shockers produced big numbers thrilled coach Chris Lamb.
"We need some balance," he said. "It can't be a one-woman show."
Zwiesler finished with 13 kills and a .440 attack percentage. Outside hitter Emily Adney matched her with 13 kills and hit .333. Amanda Backes, hitting on the right, contributed seven kills, a solo block, two aces and seven digs. Setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper handed out 35 assists.
The Shockers (7-2) hit .367 in the second set and .279 against SMU (7-3), which held its first nine opponents to a .171 attack percentage.
"The outsides were on fire," Hooper said. "Backes had a great night — they had a small blocker on her so I kept feeding her."
WSU did many other things right to win its fourth straight match. The Shockers disrupted SMU's offense with strong serving, totaling six aces without allowing one.
"We served them off the floor," Hooper said.
WSU held the Mustangs to an .089 attack percentage and limited kills leader Dana Powell to four kills and a negative attack percentage.
"Both their outside hitters were negative," Lamb said. "That's a pretty wide gap between the four outside hitters on both teams."
WSU closed out the first set with little objection from the Mustangs. The Shockers raced to leads of 7-2 and 11-4 in the second set, forcing SMU to twice call timeout. The Mustangs cut the lead to 13-10 before WSU regained control with three straight points. In the third set, WSU erased a three-point deficit with an 8-1 run started by Adney's kill. She contributed three straight points, one on a block, to give WSU a 16-14 lead. Two attack errors by SMU put the Shockers up 18-14. SMU got no closer than three points the rest of the way. WSU middle Sarah McGee finished the match strong, assisting on two blocks and smashing in a kill on a slide from Hooper.
The Shockers begin Missouri Valley Conference play with a road trip to Bradley and No. 17 Northern Iowa this weekend.