Tabitha Brown got a hug from her brother while waiting for her radio interview after Friday’s volleyball match. Her mom recorded the scene with her tablet. Dad watched and smiled from the front row.
“We said our ‘good jobs’ and ‘good lucks,’ ” Tabitha Brown said. “I know how much they love seeing us and I love seeing them. It gives me a lot more confidence and a lot more comfort.”
It’s a big weekend for the Brown family in Koch Arena. Tabitha got it started in a big way with brother Zach, soon to warm up for the basketball game, and parents Gary and Latisha watching.
WSU defeated Illinois State 3-1 (25-13, 28-30, 25-15, 25-18) with Brown recording a career-high 20 kills and Mikaela Raudsepp adding a career-best 19. The Shockers (19-7, 12-3 Missouri Valley Conference) can reach 20 wins for the 14th straight season with a win over Indiana State on Saturday at Koch Arena.
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Two weeks earlier, inefficiency on the left from Brown and Raudsepp caused consternation for coach Chris Lamb after a 3-0 loss to Northern Iowa. He tinkered with their attack routes, showing them video of the best options and asking for more variety.
It didn’t work.
“We tried to coach it up,” he said. “It did not help trying to add more to their repertoire.”
So he got out of their way.
“Big approaches, jump high, hit hard, you decide,” Lamb said. “Going back to basics was better for them.”
On Friday, Brown and Raudsepp made plenty of good choices, helped by smart decisions from setters Emily Hiebert and Jody Larson. Raudsepp hit .405 for the match, totaling four errors on 37 swings. Brown hit .395 with three errors on 43 swings.
“That was as good a performance, against a good defensive team, by two Shocker outside hitters that I can remember,” Lamb said.
It also helped, Brown said, that she is over pink eye that blurred her vision during late October matches.
“Now that I’m back in rhythm and I’ve got my eyesight back, I’m feeling a lot better about my game,” she said.
The Shockers hit .471 in the first set to set a high-efficiency tone for most of the match. They finished with a .338 attack percentage. Hiebert contributed six kills, hitting .417, with 18 digs, 37 assists and six block-assists. Larson added seven kills and 24 assists.
Jaelyn Keene led the Redbirds (16-11, 9-6) with 16 kills, eight of them in the second set.
Wichita State finished the first set on an 11-1 run after leading 14-12. The Shockers hit .471 in the set with Raudsepp contributing six kills on six swings. Brown added five kills on seven swings. The Shockers held Illinois State to 10 kills on 32 swings, with six errors.
The Redbirds survived two set-point attempts by WSU to win the second set on an attack error by Katy Dudzinski. Redbirds middle Jaelyn Keene recorded eight kills in the set.
Indiana State at WSU volleyball
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Koch Arena
- Internet: goshockers.com