Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State volleyball returns to 6-2 with Larson joining Hiebert at setter

Wichita State settter Emily Hiebert diversifies her duties when the team shifts to a 6-2 formation.
Wichita State settter Emily Hiebert diversifies her duties when the team shifts to a 6-2 formation. Correspondent

Wichita State’s Jody Larson will likely play her final home volleyball matches as a setter, which is surprising only to people who underestimate coach Chris Lamb’s enthusiasm for change.

Last weekend, he added setting duties to Larson’s successful season as an attacker so WSU could run the 6-2 offense. A neck injury kept Larson out of practice early this week, but she returned on Wednesday and said she believes she will play on Friday against Illinois State.

WSU (18-7, 11-3 Missouri Valley Conference) enters the final two weekends of MVC play in second behind Missouri State (12-2 MVC). Illinois State (16-10, 9-5) is fighting for one of two remaining spots in the six-team MVC Tournament.

Lamb long believed the 6-2 offered WSU its best chance for success. Injuries forced him to take a winding road — which included using the 5-1 for most of the season — before hitting on the Larson-Emily Hiebert combination at setter.

Is there debate with his assistants when Lamb proposes altering course during a strong season? Yes, assistant coach Donnie Wallace nods. In the end, coaches believe the 6-2 will work. This version is different from WSU’s past attempts. Hiebert and Larson play all six rotations instead of subbing for each other. When one is in the back row, she sets, and the other is a front-row attacker.

“We definitely throw these things on the board and we stare at them and we talk about them,” Lamb said. “We’re looking this going ‘We can be better.’ It’s very infatuating trying to get better.”

The 6-2 should give the Shockers more offense by keeping a third attacker in the front row at all times. In last week’s sweep of Loyola, the Shockers hit .273 with Larson taking 15 swings and Hiebert 19. Hiebert added 24 assists and Larson 17. Against Bradley, WSU hit .341 with Larson recording six kills and 24 assists and Hiebert five kills and 26 assists.

“Punch just isn’t firepower, it’s also assists,” Lamb said. “We averaged 16 assists per game last weekend, and that’s a big number. And that was with a rookie setter.”

Larson isn’t exactly a rookie at the position.

Lamb recruited her as a setter in high school before she decided to go to Oklahoma. Since transferring to WSU, she’s continued to practice occasionally at the position.

“Kind of rusty, but I think it went well,” she said. “We had always talked about it, so I was never really surprised. With Lambo, you can’t really be surprised.”

Mostrom honored — Senior libero Dani Mostrom is WSU’s fall recipient of the Missouri Valley Conference’s Good Neighbor Award.

Mostrom, from Springfield, Mo., carries a 3.69 grade-point average in health science and volunteered with Allen Elementary, Food Bank Fridays, TOP Learning Center and other events.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

Illinois State at Wichita State

  • When: 5 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Koch Arena
  • Records: ISU 16-10, 9-5 MVC; WSU 18-7, 11-3
  • Online: goshockers.com
  • TV: Cox 22

Friday at Koch Arena

▪  Volleyball at 5 p.m. Men’s basketball at 8:30.

▪  Basketball tickets are good for admission to the volleyball match. The arena will be cleared in between games.

▪  Usual men’s basketball parking applies. Volleyball fans may park in one of the five lots designated “Bold Gold.” They are near Eck Stadium, east of Cessna Stadium, near Duerksen Fine Arts Center and near Memorial ‘70.