An attack percentage of .300 or better is usually reserved for volleyball's middle blockers, who take low-risk swings compared to their counterparts on the left side.
So Wichita State coach Chris Lamb doesn't hesitate to label Emily Adney's season as one to remember. WSU's left is hitting .305 in Missouri Valley Conference matches, eighth best. Six of the seven players in front of her are middles, and one is a setter.
"She's on pace to become the most prolific scoring outside hitter since I've been in the Valley," Lamb said. "She's been a phenomenal point scorer."
Adney, a junior from Golden, Colo., is second in the MVC with an average of 3.56 kills a set in conference matches. Her efficiency is what makes her season special. Adney has taken 367 swings in MVC matches, 99 more than anyone else in the top 10 of hitting percentage.
"She developed range quickly," Lamb said. "She can score from all over the court and she understands placement and range."
The Shockers (14-8, 8-4 MVC) play at second-place Creighton (15-10, 10-3) tonight. With first-place Northern Iowa running away, the race is on for second. WSU enters the weekend in fourth, behind Missouri State (9-3).
Adney is sure to see double blockers on many of her attempts this weekend, a tactic No. 12 Northern Iowa used effectively last weekend in a sweep of WSU. She recorded 11 kills, but also 11 errors.
"It's frustrating," Adney said. "You have to look at where their defense was for tips, so if I have a dig double-block in front of me I won't just swing and make a stupid mistake. You can try to score off the block, and that's not always easy."
Most teams aren't as effective at limiting Adney. She possesses a variety of shots and good accuracy. When she came to WSU, she rarely scored down the line. Now it's a comfortable shot for her.
"Lambo makes you do things," she said. "You're either going to learn it or not. When I got here I had one or two shots, and they made me do it and I got better over time."
Adney has also improved her passing and she usually plays six rotations. For the season, she is hitting .260 with a team-leading 3.21 kills a set and a team-leading 3.75 points a set.
She played tennis up until her sophomore year in high school. She liked volleyball's camaraderie and teamwork, so she made it her sport.
Her time spent on tennis wasn't wasted. Durability and power are two of her assets, and she thinks swinging a racket helped her shoulder strength.
"My shoulder got used to wear and tear," she said. "And in tennis, you've got the extra weight of the racket."
As a freshman, Adney was forced into a larger-than-expected role when a knee injury sidelined Lindsey Eckenrode. She surprised Lamb with her fast adjustment to the college game.
"I thought she would have to get a lot stronger to be a scorer," he said. "The wear and tear on outside hitters in college volleyball takes its toll over the season. This girl has just powered right through it every year."
Worth noting — WSU swept Creighton and Drake (Saturday's opponent) during their visit in October. WSU held Creighton to a .124 attack percentage, recording 12 blocks and 30 digs.... WSU has defeated Drake 22 straight times.... The Shockers lead the MVC in attack percentage (.263). Creighton leads the MVC with an average of 2.52 blocks.... WSU senior Camri Zwiesler averages 0.35 aces a set, tops in the conference.