Volleyball takes MVC tournament, advances to NCAA competition


Players celebrate their sweep against Evansville Saturday night as they clinch the program’s sixth Missouri Valley Conference championship at Charles Koch Arena.

For Wichita State volleyball, the Missouri Valley Conference Championship Tournament was filled with deficits, comebacks and thrilling victories.

The Shockers came back from an 0-2 start to defeat UNI in the semifinals 3-2 by scores of 15-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-11 and 15-7.

Game leaders included Katie Reilly with 12 kills, Mikalea Raudsepp with 11, Emily Hiebert with 35 assists and Dani Mostrom with 23 digs.

With an eighth appearance in the finals in school history, WSU came back from a 0-2 deficit to take down Missouri State in the championship match 24-26, 20-25, 27-25, 25-17 and 18-16.

With this win, the Shockers earned their third MVC Tournament title in school history.

Named tournament MVP, Jody Larson had 19 kills and 17 digs, all tournament-selection Shimen Fayad had 16 kills, five digs and four blocks, and also all-tournament selection, Hiebert had 66 assists and 13 digs.

Abbie Lehman received a career-high 21 kills in the match, while Mostrom contributed with a team-high 27 digs.

A selection show watch party was held when the team returned home Sunday.

Guaranteed an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament, weight was lifted off the squad’s shoulders as they waited in eager anticipation to hear who their opponent would be of the 64 selected to compete for the title.

“It’s definitely more of being excited than being anxious,” Reilly said. “It was fun knowing that we would see our name on the screen.”

The verdict was read, and Wichita State will face 17-11 Kansas State in the first round at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the Bob Deveaney Sports Center.

The No. 28 26-8 Shockers will make their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance — the first since 2013.

“They have a lot of good athletes and play in a really great conference,” head coach Chris Lamb said. “They will be tough to score against, but at this point we are just excited to play in the tournament and go out there and compete. We’ve had a great season.”

Wichita State has an all-time record of 6-8 at the NCAA Championship, and are 5-3 historically in first-round play.

“K-state is going to be a good matchup for us,” Larson said. “We are going to get after it in practice and take it one game at a time.”

The match will be televised on ESPN3 and available online at goshockers.com/watch.