Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State volleyball drills down to recapture out-of-system confidence

Mikaela Raudsepp spikes the ball during a match against Northern Iowa last season, The Shockers play host to UNI on Friday night at Koch Arena.
Mikaela Raudsepp spikes the ball during a match against Northern Iowa last season, The Shockers play host to UNI on Friday night at Koch Arena. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb eliminates one of his favorite drills in midseason to save wear and tear on bodies.

Off Tight Over Over is back. A loss to Missouri State and a date with Northern Iowa convinced Lamb to return the drill to his practice schedule.

“It’s a pricey drill — you get a lot out of it, but you pay a lot for it,” Lamb said.

Off-Tight puts everybody in a scramble, designed to acclimate attackers to bad-ball, or out-of-system, opportunities. In a five-match win streak, the Shockers dominated offensively. A week ago, the Shockers committed a season-high 27 attack errors in a 3-1 loss to Missouri State. After spending two weeks running smooth, WSU’s out-of-system chops failed them.

“I could tell my confidence level swinging on the pins on bad balls wasn’t like it normally was,” outside hitter Mikaela Raudsepp said. “When you get dug a lot, you want to have a very high confidence, because as a pin attacker that’s the situation you’re going to get put in a majority of the time.”

On Friday, WSU (15-6, 8-2 Missouri Valley Conference) plays Northern Iowa (17-7, 8-3), the team Lamb regards as the standard for defense in the Valley. WSU is tied for first place in the MVC with Missouri State, with Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois a half-game behind.

WSU’s attack struggled from the start against Missouri State on its way to a season-low .167 attack percentage. UNI leads the MVC by holding opponents to a .169 attack percentage and its 18.31 digs a set lead the Valley.

“A large portion of our approaches on the pins were lazy, not well-prepared, ready to get up and smoke a ball,” Lamb said. “You have to, have to, have to continue to work hard on these approaches.”

Sessions of Off Tight Over Over during Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices are designed to help the Shockers find the right attack routes when setter Emily Hiebert is pulled away from the net and nothing looks like it should.

“It trains you take aggressive swings on out-of-system plays,” Raudsepp said. “We train so much in-system, and that’s what everyone loves to watch, but the majority of the game is not pretty like that.”

Lamb backs off the drill when trainers tell him his players are tired. Off Tight Over Over is a repetitive scrimmage drill with a clock that keeps both sides of the net moving.

“You’re taking huge approaches as an outside hitter and trying to be aggressive with everything,” Raudsepp said. “Max jumping — it’s taxing. You have people flying everywhere.”

Worth noting — The Shockers hit .258 against UNI in the first meeting, a 3-1 Panthers win on Oct. 1. Jody Larson led WSU with 17 kills and Abbie Lehman added 11. … Panthers setter Heather Hook leads the MVC with an average of 11.18 assists, with Hiebert second at 10.81. … UNI’s Kayla Haneline ranks fifth in the MVC with a .350 attack percentage and sixth in kills at 3.32. She hit .407 with 12 kills in the first meeting. … The Shockers play Drake (13-11, 4-6) on Saturday. WSU has won 32 straight against the Bulldogs.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

Northern Iowa at WSU volleyball

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Koch Arena
  • Records: UNI 17-7, 8-3 MVC; WSU 15-6, 8-2
  • Audio: goshockers.com
  • Video: ESPN3.com