Volleyball opens conference play at Missouri State

Wichita+State+volleyball+team+comes+together+before+the+game+with+the+Cincinatti+Bearcats.+The+WSU+hosted+the+Shocker+volleyball+classic+on+Sept.+2%2C+2016.

Brian Hayes

Wichita State volleyball team comes together before the game with the Cincinatti Bearcats. The WSU hosted the Shocker volleyball classic on Sept. 2, 2016.

Grant Cohen

Wichita State’s volleyball nonconference season finished with wins over Texas Tech and Texas State before falling to the University of Texas San Antonio in five matches. With a 7-4 record, the Shockers managed to get NCAA tournament resume’ building wins over Creighton, Marquette, and Colorado State.

The Shockers open up the Missouri Valley Conference season with a match at Missouri State on Friday. The Bears were predicted to finish second in the MVC preseason polls, 12 points behind the Shockers.

MSU holds a record of 9-5, with wins over Illinois, Arkansas and no. 17 Ohio State. WSU was able to hold down the Bears in Springfield, Mo. last season in the MVC tournament championship, winning 3-2 in the championship match to clinch the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Bears earned one of the 33 at large-bids for the dance in December, before losing to Missouri 3-1 in the round of 64.

Junior outside hitter Lily Johnson leads the MSU offense with an average of 4.15 kills per set. Johnson, the 2015 MVC Player of the Year and AVCA All-American honorable mention selection, leads the conference with 240 points scored.

Averaging 15.67 digs per set, Emily Butters averages 4.13 digs per set to lead the Bears defense. MSU has a hitting percentage of .211, scoring off of 12.87 kills per set.

For WSU, freshman libero Giorgia Civita has stepped into a larger role for the Shockers in the last five matches. Civita leads the Shockers with 3.62 digs per set, earning MVC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season.

Leading the Shockers with 21 kills in the win over MSU in the MVC tournament, junior middle blocker Abbie Lehman comes into Friday’s match averaging 2.87 kills per set off of a .420 hitting percentage. Lehman is second in the conference in attacking percentage and has managed to get double digit kills in four out of the Shocker’s last five matches.

Sophomore outside hitter Tabitha Brown and junior outside hitter Mikaela Raudsepp have added to WSU’s .289 hitting percentage on offense. Both are averaging over two kills per set this season, with Raudsepp coming off of a 17 kill performance against UTSA on Saturday.

Junior setter Emily Hiebert is coming off of two double double matches from San Antonio, tallying an average of 40 assists and 11.33 digs per match in her last three performances. Hiebert assisted on 66 scores in the win over MSU in last season’s conference tournament championship, building that moment to average 10.41 assists per set in the first 11 matches.

The Shockers have forced their opponents to hit an average hitting percentage of .210, along with averaging 18.3 opponent errors per match. WSU’s defense has held opponents to hitting an average of .151 in the Shocker’s seven wins.

First serve between WSU and MSU will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Hammons Student Center on MSU’s campus in Springfield.