Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb didn’t think his team’s offensive roll would last the entire season. He also didn’t think it would crash so completely.
The Shockers hit a season-low .167 in Friday’s 3-1 (25-17, 25-20, 18-25, 25-21) loss to Missouri State on Friday at Koch Arena. WSU dropped into a three-way tie for first-place in the Missouri Valley Conference, sunk by a multitude of poor choices and poor targets on offense.
“A lot of time blocking has to do with bad attack preparation and bad attack selection,” Lamb said. “We had more kills than them on less swings, but we had eight more attack errors.”
WSU (15-6, 8-2 MVC) lost its first home match since Sept. 2 and ended a five-match win streak in which it hit .300 or better in four. MSU (17-7, 8-2) won its eighth straight match since starting Valley play 0-2. Southern Illinois (17-7, 8-2) is also tied for first.
WSU’s errors showed up all over the stat sheet, most noticeably from the pin players. Tabitha Brown hit negative-.143 with four kills and eight errors on 28 swings. Mikaela Raudsepp had eight kills, four in the final set, and hit .217. Jody Larson hit .179 with 10 kills and middle Katy Dudzinski hit .167.
In addition to a season-high 27 attack errors, WSU committed 11 service errors and had one ace, by Brown.
“We were just bad on the left,” Lamb said. “Tabitha, Mikaela —they just didn’t score. We’ve got to go back and look at it and try to figure this out.”
Middle Abbie Lehman led the Shockers with 17 kills, hitting .297.
Last season’s MVC Player of the Year Lily Johnson led the Bears with 15 kills. Lynsey Wright added eight. The Bears hit .200 and outblocked WSU 10-6.
The Shockers held Johnson, who leads the MVC in kills, to a .109 attack percentage and she ended the first two sets with six kills and seven errors. She had nine kills and two errors in the final two sets.
“We like what we held Lily Johnson to,” WSU libero Dani Mostrom said. “You tell us that Missouri State hits .200 in a match and I think we win it, especially if we keep Lily to .109. That’s just crazy.”
MSU pulled away in the fourth set from an 18-all tie. Wright’s kill started the decisive run and Brianne Dixon’s serving flustered the Shockers. A kill by Johnson made it 22-18 after a WSU timeout. Wright’s block on Lehman gave the Bears a 24-20 lead. The Bears won it when Hanna Shelton’s serve floated past the end line.
Missouri State’s blockers controlled the first set, handing WSU its first loss in a set at home since the opener against Cincinnati, by taking away pin attacks. The Shockers got something going with Dudzinski in the middle late in the set, but too late to matter.
The Bears held WSU to a .000 attack percentage, its worst in a set this season. Lehman totaled one kill on seven swings and Larson one on three attempts, erasing two of WSU’s top threats from the offense in that set.
WSU found some scoring in the second set, bumping its attack percentage to .129, but not enough. The Bears hit .258 and spread its scoring throughout the lineup, even with Johnson error-prone.
The Shockers fell down 2-0 for the first time this season at home and the first time a sweep against Texas on Sept. 10.
Lehman’s eight kills in the second set led to more balance in the third set.
The Shockers took their biggest lead of the match at 7-5 on an MSU attack errors and never trailed again. The turning point came after a timeout with the Shockers up 15-14. Raudsepp scored, Emily Hiebert scored and Raudsepp added another point. A bad set and an attack error by the Bears gave WSU a 20-14 lead and control of the set.