Wichita State Shockers

Why Giorgia Civita has every digs record in WSU volleyball history in peril

Wichita State libero Giorgia Civita and outside hitter Tabitha Brown celebrate a point against the Tulane Green Wave during the home-opener in Koch Arena. (Sept. 21, 2018)
Wichita State libero Giorgia Civita and outside hitter Tabitha Brown celebrate a point against the Tulane Green Wave during the home-opener in Koch Arena. (Sept. 21, 2018) Brian Hayes

Giorgia Civita has already shattered every single-season record in the Wichita State volleyball program as a sophomore.

Up next? The career records.

While WSU’s 13-17 season, its first losing mark since 2001, may not be remembered, Civita’s season will go down in history. The sophomore libero from Italy has a program-record 692 digs and 5.91 digs per set and will add to it after WSU accepted a bid to play in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

WSU will play Central Arkansas in the opening round on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in Denton, Texas.

The previous single-season standard was set by Kelly Broussard in 2007 with 628 digs and 5.66 digs per set. And speaking of Broussard, WSU’s all-time career digs leader at 2,202, Civita (1,412 career digs) very well could challenge for the No. 1 all-time mark — as a junior.

“It’s been pretty amazing,” Civita said. “Even though this year didn’t go the way that we expected it to, (WSU coach Chris Lamb) told me that this is something I need to feel good about. And it is something I feel great about.”

Civita already set the program’s freshmen records for total digs (579) and digs per set (5.22) last season. Now she owns the single-season records as a sophomore.

Lamb said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Civita own every WSU record, including Broussard’s career digs per set record of 4.97. Civita’s career mark currently stands at 5.27 digs per set.

“It’s not a big surprise. Giorgia was an elite defender from the time she got here,” Lamb said. “She had volleyball IQ beyond the level that we play here. She’s going to find her way to a few more balls per game over time and that’s just going to add up. I can only imagine that she might beat her own record again.”

Many factors contributed to Civita’s stat-stuffing sophomore season.

  • WSU graduated Abbie Lehman, Emily Hiebert and Mikaela Raudsepp, who was responsible for more than half of WSU’s blocks last season. As a result, WSU’s defense dropped from 2.6 blocks per set in 2017 to 1.6 blocks per set this season.
  • WSU graduated back-row stalwarts Hannah Shelton and Gabi Mostrom and couldn’t replace their production, leaving more work for Civita.
  • Civita just got better. She worked in the offseason on improving her mobility and could tell a difference in her play this season.

“I felt like I got more rangy,” Civita said. “I started to move better. My problem was always trying to be more rangy after my (knee) surgery, but I feel great now.”

“She’s in the best shape since she’s been here,” Lamb said. “We put her at middle back a lot and you’ve got to be able to pursue at middle back. You could tell she had a lot of work to do to her left. She was more comfortable making skilled, accurate plays to her right. But at middle back she got more balls on her left side and she came a long way with that.”

WSU didn’t have much of a block this season, which left its defense exposed at times. Civita was there to clean up a lot of would-be kills and prolong rallies for the Shockers.

Tabitha Brown (330 kills) rallied in conference play to finish her career strong, Megan Taflinger (300 kills) has been a breakout star for the Shockers this season, and Kora Kauling (613 assists) has gained valuable experience running an offense as a freshman.

But there was no doubt who the team’s most consistent performer was this season.

“From wire to wire, she definitely was the Shocker who had the best season,” Lamb said. “From a performance standpoint, there’s your Wichita State MVP for this season for sure.”