Even after consecutive home losses to Missouri State and Northern Iowa knocked Wichita State from atop the Missouri Valley Conference volleyball standings, the threat of overconfidence was present for the Shockers on Saturday.
In the end, it didn’t hurt WSU, which defeated Drake 25-23, 25-21, 25-15 for its 33rd consecutive victory over the Bulldogs. But there were moments the Shockers could feel it.
“I think we did get a little cocky,” sophomore outside hitter Tabitha Brown said. “We started making a lot of errors. That was our biggest issue to me.
“But we had to come together and keep fighting through it.”
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Brown was part of a balanced scoring attack that helped the Shockers improve to 16-7, 9-3 in the MVC. Coupled with Missouri State’s four-set victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday, WSU moved ahead of UNI into second place, one game behind Missouri State.
“Usually it happens in late October and early November on the road,” WSU coach Chris Lamb said of the rough stretch the Shockers encountered before rebounding against Drake. “This year, it’s happened to teams at home.
“It’s our turn to dig our way out.”
After using a 6-2 formation and falling to Northern Iowa in three sets on Friday, WSU returned to a 5-1 against Drake. The Shockers built a 20-10 lead in the first set before holding off the Bulldogs, who sliced their deficit to one on two occasions before Brown put away match point with a kill from the left side.
Brown, senior Jody Larson and junior Mikaela Raudsepp each finished with nine kills. Senior Katy Dudzinski added eight as the Shockers hit .248 for the match.
“We like to try a bunch of things and when we went with the 5-1 tonight, we just wanted everyone to buy in and play our best in that,” said junior Gabi Mostrom, who led the defensive effort with 12 digs. “At the beginning, you don’t really know what to expect, but as the game went on, you catch on to their tendencies. By the third set, we really got going.”
WSU surrendered the first four points of the second game and trailed 12-7 before rallying. Abbie Lehman served a series of points that tied the score at 14, then added three consecutive kills later in the set to set up set point.
In the final set, several Drake hitting errors enabled WSU to break away from a 6-6 tie and stretch its advantage to 17-7. Junior Natalie Brisso put away two of the Shockers’ final three points to seal the victory.
“You’re scratching and clawing for every win,” Lamb said. “We’ve been living this for a while and it’s tough. We haven’t had back-to-back home losses in I don’t know how long.
“This was about getting our heads right.”