Paul Suellentrop

WSU notes: Katy Dudzinski moves to the middle in search of volleyball role

Katy Dudzinski hits a kill shot against Illinois State's Eliza Smith duirng a match last season at Koch Arena.
Katy Dudzinski hits a kill shot against Illinois State's Eliza Smith duirng a match last season at Koch Arena. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb is thrilled by Katy Dudzinski’s attitude and enthusiasm and intrigued by her talents, ones he feels sure can help. Now he’s got to find a way to get her on the court for her junior season.

“Katy has one of the most elite arms in our conference,” Lamb said. “You’d love to find a way to keep her out there, but there’s lots of things you have to do to be out there.”

Last season, Lamb considered Dudzinski a likely starter on the front row, but she played in seven matches. Newcomers grabbed playing time and lineup combinations worked against her.

“We never really got there,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not your six best players; it’s your four best players and two who complement them. This year, her job description is different and she’s had a great spring.”

Lamb has moved Dudzinski to middle blocker, while continuing to work her on the right, and likes the results so far. Her accuracy is sharper, especially in scramble situations, and she is more of a threat jumping off two feet.

“She works hard for attempts,” he said. “You want that in the middle. Katy’s a different player this year handling the volleyball. She errs less and scores more, attacks with more range.”

Dudzinski’s spring move to the middle put her in a new position. She likes the blocking assignments and believes WSU’s quick-hitting sets to the middles fit her mobility. She joins one of WSU’s strongest positions, with All-Missouri Valley Conference sophomore Abbie Lehman and senior Katie Reilly returning.

“I went into it with the attitude of ‘I’m going to take this and run with this opportunity,’” she said. “I know a lot of people who, if they got their positions switched, they wouldn’t enjoy it. I tried to take the extremely positive approach and I fell in love with the middle.”

Dudzinski, from Elburn, Ill., redshirted in 2012 after a broken foot derailed her freshman season. Lamb saw her as a potential starter on the right and described the injury as “going to Disneyland and finding out half the rides are closed.” In 2013, she played in two sets as a redshirt freshman.

“It has been frustrating, but I try to keep a very positive attitude and out-work any difficulties,” she said. “Just fitting in, doing what needs to be done is so important. I’ve been working so hard for it. I will make it happen.”

Catch and throw — WSU baseball added two players with experience to its roster over the summer and a third will join the team after attending WSU last spring.

▪  Catcher Josh Whisler, a junior who also plays first and third, transferred to WSU from Fort Scott Community College.

He hit .384 with 10 home runs, 16 doubles and 76 RBIs. He said he also considered Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oregon and Evansville before committing to WSU in June. Shockers coaches watched him go 7 for 14 with a home run in four games at the Region VI tournament at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in May.

Whisler played for the Valley Center Diamond Dawgs this summer. He hit .471 in five NBC World Series games, doubling and tripling and driving in four runs, and earned a spot on the all-tournament team as the designated hitter.

He is from Owasso, Okla., a town that has produced several Shockers, including pitcher Jeb Bargfeldt. Bargfeldt gave WSU a good recommendation after leaving in the spring to transfer to Cisco (Texas) College.

“He had nothing but great things to say about this place and about the coaches,” Whisler said. “I trust him. We’re pretty good friends.”

▪  Pitcher Brian Greisman, while recovering from Tommy John (elbow) surgery, attended class at WSU in the spring semester. He was rehabbing from the surgery and did not practice.

He pitched at Murray State (Okla.) College in 2014, throwing 17 innings and compiling a 7.41 ERA. He was teammates with WSU reliever John Hayes at Murray.

Greisman, from Ardmore, Okla., had surgery in July 2014, scuttling his plans to play for NAIA Oklahoma Baptist. He will be a junior at WSU. Greisman pitched for the Kansas Cannons this summer, serving mostly as a closer.

▪  Pitcher Landon Holifield, a transfer from Abilene Christian, will sit out this season and be eligible in 2017 for his final season.

He walked on at Abilene Christian and made 10 relief appearances with a 4.34 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. The assistant coach who recruited Holifield out of Fort Scott Community College left before the season and left Holifield without an advocate.

“It just never felt right,” he said. “I had a great experience for the most part, but I just wasn’t really wanted there.”

News of basketball recruits — Iowa Western Community College point guard Donovan Jackson will visit Wichita State on Aug. 28, according to coach Jim Morris.

Jackson (6-foot-1) averaged 13.6 points and 2.3 assists as a freshman, making 40.2 percent of his three-pointers (66 of 164). He is from Milwaukee and, according to Scout.com, recently visited Iowa State and will visit Mississippi on Sept. 11.

▪  Merrillville (Ind.) senior point guard D.J. Wilkins will make an unofficial visit to WSU this weekend, according to assistant coach Bo Patton’s Twitter account.

Wilkins (6-2) is ranked a three-star recruit (on a scale of five) by Rivals.com. He earned honorable mention all-state honors for small schools in Indiana from the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.

He is coached by T.J. Lux, a name that veteran Shockers fans may remember, if they keep a storehouse of painful memories. Five games into his star career at Northern Illinois, Lux dented the Shockers for 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 77-52 win over WSU at then-Levitt Arena in 1995. Carter Arnett led WSU with 16 points.

▪  Frankie Hughes, a guard at Cleveland’s Garfield Heights, lists WSU among his top 10 schools on his Twitter account, along with Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Florida State, Dayton, Saint Joseph’s, Texas A&M, Tulane and San Francisco. He is ranked a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.

Worth noting — Wichita State’s Volleyball 101 dinner is at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at Koch Arena. Tickets are $40. For more information call (316) 978-3267.… Northern Iowa recently unveiled a five-year capital plan for athletics, according to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, that includes a $15-million Panther Performance Center. Basketball practice courts and offices would serve as the facility’s main feature.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.

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