The emotion of senior night didn't keep Wichita State from coolly dispatching Evansville on Saturday.
WSU's three seniors did their things and junior Emily Adney sizzled from the left side in the 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-21) win at Koch Arena.
Evansville focused its defense on WSU's middles and Adney and Camri Zwiesler feasted on open spaces. Adney's 23 kills set a WSU record for most in three sets during the rally scoring era that started in 2001.
"I felt like a middle-school setter because I was literally told to set only the outsides," senior Mary Elizabeth Hooper said. "It wasn't a high-level offense, but it got the job done and our outsides did unreal."
Evansville (13-18, 3-13 Missouri Valley Conference) couldn't duplicate its 3-2 upset of WSU from last month. In that match, the Shockers blew a 2-1 lead. On Saturday, WSU (17-9, 11-5) didn't give the Aces any momentum. The Shockers seized control quickly in the third set, jumping to leads of 7-2, 13-5 and 16-10.
"We knew going up in the third set immediately was important, because this is a team that, they're not going to give up," Adney said.
When Evansville cut the lead to 16-13, forcing a Shocker timeout, WSU responded with three straight points. Not surprisingly, Adney started the response with a kill down the line. Sam Sanders found the middle of the court open for an 18-13 lead and Zwiesler's ace made it 19-13. Adney followed with a tip for a 20-13 lead.
Up 21-16, WSU coach Chris Lamb felt comfortable enough to remove Hooper so she could receive an ovation. Up 24-19, he called timeout to give Zwiesler the same treatment. Chelsey Feekin, Hooper's sub, ended the match with a kill into the middle of the court, giving WSU its 11th straight win over the Aces at home.
Evansville snapped a 19-match losing streak to the Shockers in October. Having a bit of revenge on their minds probably helped the Shockers focus after senior ceremonies. Hooper, Zwiesler and libero Sarah Waldorf took their bows and shed a few tears — arms linked with parents — before the match.
"Driving away from their place, we definitely said 'Oh my gosh, we have them for senior night, and they're not about to win,'" Hooper said.
Evansville sold out to stop WSU middles Ashley Andrade and Elizabeth Field. That tactic might make statistical sense since middles are typically more efficient than outsides. Adney and Zwiesler rendered it ineffective with their variety of shots. Adney signaled the coming blizzard of shots with 10 kills in the first set. She finished with a .370 attack percentage. Zwiesler totaled 13 kills with a .355 attack percentage.
" (Adney) sees the court really well," Evansville coach Mike Swan said. "We tried to serve short so that we were breaking up any quicks that they were trying to do. They just kept feeding the outsides. We thought they would run their middles a lot more and quick attack us."
Lamb decided to keep it simple and give the ball to his lefts.
"I said 'Tonight, until they loosen up, it's just going to be Adney, Adney, Adney, Camri, Camri, Camri until it goes away,'" he said. "It didn't go away. Right lineup. Right system. Hooper held onto the gameplan."
Adney swung 46 times, 15 more than Zwiesler.
"I told them I would massage their shoulders after the game," Hooper said.
Hooper finished with 46 assists, extending her career total to 4,617, tops at WSU. Waldorf recorded 19 digs and Zwiesler 15 to help WSU's defense limit the Aces to a .193 attack percentage.
Rachel TenHoor led Evansville with seven kills.
"This time, I think that we out-defended them by a lot," Adney said. "When we played them at their place, they dug everything and everything was up and we had a hard time getting anything down."
WSU moved into third place in the MVC, thanks to an upset by last-place Bradley over Creighton in five sets.