Volleyball looks to move to first in conference after match with Southern Illinois


Julian Kinkaid

Tabitha Brown (10) encourages teammates before the next match.

Coming off two sweeps over the weekend, Wichita State volleyball looks to move ahead to first in the Missouri Valley Conference standings. The winner of Monday’s match between the Shockers and Southern Illinois will take first place in the conference.

The Salukis come into Charles Koch Arena with a 15-6 overall record, leading the MVC with a 6-1 start.

“Some people just bring more heat,” head coach Chris Lamb. “It just surprises you and you have to be ready for it.”

Senior outside hitter Jody Larson is coming off three straight double doubles of kills and digs, hitting .391 in the last three games. Junior middle blocker Abbie Lehman is currently 11th in the country in hitting percentage, hitting .415 on the year.

Junior setter Emily Hiebert is ranked 50th in the nation in assists per set, averaging 10.50 assists per set. Hieber has double-doubles in 10 of 15 matches this season in assists and digs.

As a team, the Shockers are hitting .291 and forcing their opponents to hitting .198. WSU is ranked eighth nationally in hitting percentage.

“We have more firepower this year,” Larson said. “Everyone can put a ball down in the ground. We have confidence in each other.”

WSU has been spread out offensively, with three Shockers scoring 15 or more kills in a match this season.  The Shockers have also had four different players with 15 or more digs in a match this season.

On Saturday, Bradley was forced to hit .089 because of WSU’s defense. The Shockers finished the game with a .322 hitting   percentage.

“I like balance scoring,” Lamb said. “Offense and serve and pass is something we’ve been running away with.”

Southern Illinois are led by Andrea Estrada and Abby Barrow on offense, who are averaging 2.82 kills per set this season. Meg Viggars averages 6.13 assists while Mariana Pilon averages 3.55 digs per set on defense.

WSU and Southern Illinois play Monday beginning at 7 p.m. at Koch Arena.

“The biggest thing right now is defense,” redshirt freshman setter Jordan Roberts said. “We were putting some balls down but couldn’t score. We had to go back to the drawing board and work on some things in the front row.”