Cincinnati’s Jordan Thompson hit over blocks and through blocks and scored no matter what Wichita State strategized.
Some volleyball matches are decided by adjustments and details. On Friday, Cincinnati did those things and overpowered the Shockers as well on their way to a 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24) win in the Shocker Volleyball Classic at Koch Arena.
“They’re just so much more powerful on the pins that they got way better bail-out swings,” WSU coach Chris Lamb said. “We’re a good volleyball team, but those guys have more firepower.”
Thompson, last season’s American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, hit .316 on her way to 25 kills.
“She’s an elite player,” Lamb said. “We just could not contain more power on the pins.”
WSU (1-2) won the first set by holding Cincinnati (3-1) to a .161 attack percentage and limiting Thompson’s teammates. As the match progressed, Carly Nolan and Ciara Hill added balance and the Bearcats hit .212 in the second set and .308 in the third.
Nolan finished with 14 kills, nine in the final two sets. Hill added 10, all in the final three sets.
“A lot of that was first contact – our passing got better and it allowed our setter some more options and allowed our attackers to get open,” Bearcats coach Molly Alvey said.
WSU’s offense couldn’t keep up.
Jody Larson led WSU with 15 kills and Mikaela Raudsepp added 10. The Shockers hit .169 and Cincinnati’s serving disrupted WSU’s system. Setter Emily Hiebert spent too much of the night away from the net, chasing balls, and couldn’t connect with middle Abbie Lehman.
“I felt like they were jumping with me and I probably could have still dumped more,” Hiebert said. “I needed to find better one-on-ones.”
Cincinnati survived Wichita State’s rally in the fourth set.
WSU led 19-17 and 23-21 in the fourth set before the Bearcats ended the match with a 5-1 run. Back to back kills by Thompson tied the match 24-all. An attack error by Raudsepp gave the Bearcats a one-point lead and they won it on Thompson’s 25th kill of the game.
“We put ourselves in position to get to a fifth and anything can happen in the fifth,” Lamb said. “We weren’t ready to close the door. We made our share of mistakes in the end.”
The Shockers hit .345 in the first set with its balanced attack finding many openings. Raudsepp, Katy Dudzinski and Larson each recorded three kills and Larson ended the match with a block.
Back-to-back kills by Dudzinski gave WSU a 13-9 lead and forced a Bearcats timeout. A kill and an ace by Hiebert forced another timeout after WSU went up 21-14.
Cincinnati cooled off WSU’s attack in the second set, holding the Shockers to an .088 attack percentage. It continued to keep the ball away from Lehman, who finished the first two sets with two kills on six swings. WSU rallied to cut the lead to 21-19 before Thompson scored twice. Larson’s service error ended the match.
WSU switched liberos in the second set, going to Dani Mostrom after freshman Giorgia Civita started the match in the different-colored jersey.
WSU’s offensive struggles continued in the third set. It hit .156, despite finding Lehman some room for three kills. Larson added five and found success from the back row.
Thompson continued to overpower the Shockers, recording five kills in the set. Her game-winner gave her 17 on 37 swings in the first three sets. The Bearcats hit .308 in the set with Nolan adding five kills and Maya Muldrow four.
Shocker Volleyball Classic
At Koch Arena
Marquette 3, IUPUI 0
Cincinnati 3, Wichita State 1
Cincinnati (3-1) vs. Marquette (3-1), 10 a.m.
IUPUI (1-3) at Wichita State (1-2), 1 p.m.
IUPUI vs. Cincinnati, 5 p.m.
Marquette at Wichita State, 7:30 p.m.
WSU games broadcast on goshockers.com (audio) and ESPN3.com (video).