Wichita State Shockers

WSU volleyball planning on banner-dropping, record-setting home opener Friday

Emily Hiebert is one of a handful of former Shockers to be in attendance Friday when the Wichita State volleyball team celebrates its undefeated 2017 conference championship season at its home opener against Tulane.
Emily Hiebert is one of a handful of former Shockers to be in attendance Friday when the Wichita State volleyball team celebrates its undefeated 2017 conference championship season at its home opener against Tulane. The Wichita Eagle

Since training began for this season, Chris Lamb knew how important it would be with so many new players for this year’s Wichita State volleyball team to develop its own identity.

But for at least one night this fall, Lamb will have to acknowledge the historic season the Shockers had last season.

Wichita State will play its first match of the season in Koch Arena at 7 p.m. Friday when it hosts Tulane and drops banners for its 20-0 American Athletic Conference championship and appearance in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

To make the evening even more memorable, WSU is attempting to break its regular-season attendance record of 6,122 by slashing all general admission tickets to $3. There will also be a post-match autograph session with players and free posters available.

“I’ve tried to put as much of that behind us as possible because everywhere I go I have to respond to that,” Lamb said. “I’ve fully moved onto this season, but dropping banners is never a bad thing. It’s something you want to do every year.”

It’s sure to be an emotionally charged night, especially with several former players expected to be in attendance.

While most of WSU’s production graduated last season, current players Tabitha Brown, Giorgia Civita, Alex Koon and Emma Wright all played key roles in arguably WSU’s best season in program history.

“It will be so cool because last season was very historic,” Koon said. “To be able to remember what we did for our school and for our city, hopefully there are a lot of people there to see that banner drop. It’s going to be really exciting.”

There’s also the fact that WSU (5-6) has yet to play at home this season and has a losing record entering conference play for the first time since 2004.

While four of WSU’s six losses have come against top-15 teams, it’s still an unfamiliar place to be for the Shockers at this point in the season.

Up against a Tulane (12-3) team that enters on a six-match winning streak, WSU can’t afford to let distractions in on Friday.

“We’ve kind of been all over the place so far this season, so we’re really focused on Tulane,” Brown said. “We want to be locked down and focused with everything going on. We know how good of a team we were in 2017, but we’re hoping we can prove ourselves for this year.”

Lamb hopes the expected large crowd can serve as motivation for the Shockers.

“It’ll be fun to get back to playing at home and playing in front of a big crowd,” Lamb said. “Wichita State fans have done a great job supporting us in the past and we’re hoping they can do it again in a big way on Friday.”

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