Wichita State can’t wait on resume-building wins, so it had every reason to throw its entire playbook at Marquette on Saturday.
“It’s like the Daytona 500 and NASCAR,” Shockers coach Chris Lamb said. “The big ones for us are at the beginning of the year. The non-conference thing matters to the mid-major.”
The Shockers showed that with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-20) win over Marquette in the Shocker Volleyball Classic at Koch Arena. WSU, Marquette and Cincinnati each went 2-1 in the tournament and WSU’s victories in seven of its 10 sets served as the tiebreaker for the championship.
What matters most is that the Shockers (3-2) earned a second win that should hold up well for power-ranking and NCAA Tournament-resume purposes. No. 22 Creighton and Marquette (4-2) are picked 1-2 in the Big East and the Shockers hope they finish in those spots. Still ahead are No. 3 Texas and No. 25 Colorado State this week in Fort Collins, Colo.
WSU’s Tabitha Brown recorded 11 kills and Jody Larson added 10. Tournament MVP Emily Hiebert added five kills, 39 assists, eight digs and a solo block. Middle Abbie Lehman hit .400 with seven kills, four in the second set. Libero Dani Mostrom led a strong effort by the back row with a season-high 21 digs.
WSU knocked Marquette off –balance in the first set and the Golden Eagles couldn’t adjust quickly enough to recover. The Shockers, Lamb said, used junk defenses in four of their six rotations, largely to keep Golden Eagles outside hitter Taylor Louis from using her power.
Twenty-four digs in the first set demonstrated how effectively the strategy worked. Marquette hit .075 in that set and .143 for the match. WSU’s blockers and back row combined to negate most of Marquette’s first choices for attack avenues.
“They gave us a ton of different looks, a lot of different defenses in different situations,” Marquette coach Ryan Theis said.
Louis finished with 13 kills, nine in the final set. She hit .125 and Lamb was pleased that the Shockers took away her power for most of the match. Jenna Rosenthal added nine kills and hit .273 for Marquette.
“(Louis) got the ball by the block, which you knew was going to happen, and my hope was it would hit somebody,” Lamb said. “All the digs in game 1, I think it was frustrating for them. They didn’t get what they wanted. They had to work for things.”
The first set also featured WSU attacking effectively behind the setter. The Shockers did it more often and more productively than in its previous matches.
“It was awesome and it gave Abbie a little more room to work because they weren’t as focused on her,” Hiebert said. “And I think it opened me up a little bit more to dump because they were worried about us going behind.”
Hiebert found attackers on the right to stretch out Marquette’s blockers. WSU hit .405 in the first set and while that number declined, the Shockers continued to set the pace.
“We adjusted in the second set and got a little bit better,” Theis said. “We started to figure it out, but they were obviously one step ahead. You don’t get to play best of 7.”
MVP – Emily Hiebert, Wichita State
Taylor Louis, Marquette
Jenna Rosenthal, Marquette
Jordan Thompson, Cincinnati
Carly Nolan, Cincinnati
Kori Waelbroeck, IUPUI
Mikaela Raudsepp, Wichita State
Shocker Volleyball Classic
At Koch Arena
Marquette 3, IUPUI 0
Cincinnati 3, Wichita State 1
Marquette 3, Cincinnati 1
Wichita State 3, IUPUI 0
Cincinnati 3, IUPUI 0
Wichita State 3, Marquette 0