Highlights of the week ahead:
▪ Basketball practice never stops these days. It’s a fall, winter, spring and summer sport. Still, “real” practices begin Friday for Wichita State’s men’s team. The women’s team starts on Oct. 6.
▪ Wichita State volleyball plays one match this week and it’s a big one. Missouri State, picked second in the preseason poll behind the Shockers, visits Koch Arena on Friday. Both teams are 2-0 after beating Indiana State and Illinois State last weekend. The Bears swept Illinois State; WSU won 3-1. The Shockers beat Indiana State 3-1; the Bears won in five.
Marquette is another common opponent. WSU won at Marquette 3-2. Marquette beat the Bears 3-1 in Springfield.
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The Bears start and finish with sophomore outside hitter Lily Johnson, an honorable mention All-American, MVC Freshman of the Year and an All-MVC pick last season. She has 258 kills on 708 swings, almost twice as many attempts as any teammate. No Shocker has more than 355 attempts.
▪ WSU’s women’s tennis teams will split up, with some athletes going to the MVC Individual Championships and some to the ITA All-American Championships in California. The men’s team heads to Tulsa for the ITA All-American Championships.
Both teams started with good results in their openers. Gabriela Porubin finished runner-up in her draw at OU Fall Invite and finished second in doubles with Julia Schiller. Porubin and Schiller defeated two top-50 teams on the first day. For the men, Miroslav Herzan and Haru Inoue won the doubles title at the Midland Fall Invitational. Tin Ostojic, WSU’s top singles player, debuts this fall in the ITA’s main draw.
▪ WSU’s cross country teams, after two warmup weekends, run against a strong field in the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark. on Saturday.
▪ WSU’s softball team continues its fall scrimmages against Hutchinson Community College at 6 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday against Johnson County (noon) and Rockhurst (2:15 p.m.).
▪ Sophomore outside hitter Mikaela Raudsepp entered the weekend with 32 kills after playing in 34 of WSU’s 52 sets. In two matches, she recorded 20 kills and gave the Shockers a presence that goes beyond numbers. Coach Chris Lamb said he felt better about his scoring on the pins after the weekend, largely because of Raudsepp and freshman Shimen Fayad.
Raudsepp contributed on Friday against Indiana State. She excelled with 16 kills — more than double her previous season high — and a .225 attack percentage on Saturday. Lamb enjoyed watching her enthusiasm build on Saturday. She celebrated with fist pumps and yells. She looked a lot like the player who had four double-doubles in WSU’s first eight matches last season, before a concussion sidelined her for three matches and changed her spot in WSU’s rotation. Only setter Emily Hiebert had more in all of 2014.
“When she starts feeling good about herself, look out,” Lamb said. “When she gets the confidence like she just did, look out.”
▪ The first weekend of MVC play went about as expected, although Evansville building a 2-1 lead at Northern Iowa before losing 3-2 is surprising. Illinois State, the defending champion, drew a tough start and is now playing from way behind. Since 2005, nine MVC champions lost two or fewer matches.
▪ No. 24 Kentucky won at No. 5 Florida, adding some luster to WSU’s top non-conference win.
Monday’s reading recommendation
From The Kansas City Star, a look at how last season’s Royals playoff victory over Oakland changed everything.