Shockers find blocking, winning rotations with two weekend victories

Wichita+State%27s+Regan+Stiawalt+and+Grace+Burken+double+block+an+attack+from+Temple%27s+Dana+Westfield+at+their+game+on+Oct.+28+in+Koch+Arena.
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Shockers find blocking, winning rotations with two weekend victories

Wichita State's Regan Stiawalt and Grace Burken double block an attack from Temple's Dana Westfield at their game on Oct. 28 in Koch Arena.

Wichita State's Regan Stiawalt and Grace Burken double block an attack from Temple's Dana Westfield at their game on Oct. 28 in Koch Arena.

Easton Thompson

Wichita State's Regan Stiawalt and Grace Burken double block an attack from Temple's Dana Westfield at their game on Oct. 28 in Koch Arena.

Easton Thompson

Easton Thompson

Wichita State's Regan Stiawalt and Grace Burken double block an attack from Temple's Dana Westfield at their game on Oct. 28 in Koch Arena.

For the first time in four matches, Wichita State volleyball didn’t play a five-match set.

Friday, the Shockers swept UConn in three sets, and Sunday, they swept Temple in three sets.

WSU had lost to three consecutive conference opponents in five-set matches.

“I personally was tired of having those five-set matches, and then losing on top of that,” Megan Taflinger said. “Our team was fed up with it, and we all felt like we needed to step up, and that’s what we did tonight.”

Chris Lamb’s team looked much more energetic on the floor against the Huskies. The Shockers played a clean all-around game too, only committing seven errors, while UConn committed 22.

“We won a match where the other team had more assists and kills,” Lamb said of Friday’s game against UConn. “The team out there played a clean version of volleyball tonight. It was very impressive.”

Everyone was getting in on the action Friday night for the Shockers. Lamb and the coaching staff tried out multiple different lineups, and the strategy worked.

“There are teams out there that haven’t been nicked with injuries, and we aren’t one of those teams,” Lamb said. “We are still trying to get connections, but tonight, everyone played together, and everyone did their job.”

Taflinger had an all-around stellar game for WSU on Friday. She recorded a team-high 11 kills, four blocks, four digs, and two service aces. Lamb praised the young outside hitter, comparing her performances this season to “Shocker superstars, or even Shocker Hall of Famers.”

WSU, who has learned to play with a depleted front line from a series of injuries to outside hitters, figured out blocking in both weekend games.

“We’ve practiced it some in practice, but today we just really tried to block the ball,” Taflinger said Friday. “We focused on the areas to take away, and it worked.”

Sophomore Regan Stiawalt was also a factor for WSU — giving the team a spark off the bench. Stiawalt’s biggest impact came during the second set against UConn when she came off of the bench for two straight kills that gave the Shockers the lead in the set. It also sparked a 6-0 run that gave the team all the momentum it needed to win the set.

“We just need to find Regan some comfort because she’s one of the most powerful women in the program,” Lamb said. “She stepped up today. The team needed her, and she provided.”

Stiawalt had a career-high nine kills against Temple on Sunday.

“Even with all of the injuries, we’ve stayed positive,” Stiawalt said. “We just keep talking and communicating. We know it’s going to get better — we just have to figure out what we need to do, and we did that tonight.”

WSU, who entered the weekend with a 4-5 conference record, has won two straight and moved into fifth place of the American Athletic Conference standings. With less than half the conference schedule remaining, WSU might have to win much of their schedule for a chance at post-season play. The Shockers have three home games and four away games left in their conference schedule.