Wichita State Shockers

WSU volleyball’s offense comes alive, keeps Shockers moving on in postseason play

Wichita State outside hitter Tabitha Brown goes up against  Tulane outside hitter Yvette Burcescu during the home-opener in Koch Arena. (Sept. 21, 2018)
Wichita State outside hitter Tabitha Brown goes up against Tulane outside hitter Yvette Burcescu during the home-opener in Koch Arena. (Sept. 21, 2018) Brian Hayes

The Wichita State volleyball team advanced to the second round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship with a five-set victory over Central Arkansas on Thursday in Denton, Texas.

WSU (14-17) will be one of 16 teams remaining in the bracket when it takes on either Tulsa or North Texas in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. match.

Tabitha Brown and Megan Taflinger led the Shockers to victory over Central Arkansas (20-25, 25-18, 25-13, 23-25, 15-11) with 22 kills each and a combined .422 hitting percentage. Kora Kauling directed the offense to a .300 hitting percentage with 50 sets, Giorgia Civita added 19 digs and Emma Wright chipped in seven blocks.

It was the first time the Shockers’ offense had hit at least .300 as a team since hitting .314 in a sweep over Temple on Oct. 28.

After dropping the first set 25-20, WSU jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the second set behind five Central Arkansas errors and two service aces by Brown. The Shockers finished out a 25-18 win in the second set, then delivered a dominant third set in a 25-13 victory.

Central Arkansas forced a fifth-set tiebreaker with a 25-23 fourth-set win, but WSU once again capitalized on UCA mistakes to gain a 10-5 lead in the fifth set. The match ended on a service error by Central Arkansas, which finished the match with nine service errors.

WSU, at 14-17, is faced with its first losing season since 2001. The Shockers were able to qualify for postseason play because of its No. 86 RPI and its top-20 strength of schedule.

A familiar opponent awaits the Shockers regardless of who wins the Thursday nightcap. WSU split the season series with Tulsa (19-11) in a pair of five-set matches with each team winning on their home court, while the Shockers lost to North Texas (17-16) in four games at Koch Arena in the regular-season finale on Nov. 24.

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