Volleyball set to kick off season, positions up for grabs against Kansas


Evan Pflugradt

Wichita State's Emma Wright (left) and Regan Stiawalt (right) celebrate. Wichita State lost to Southern Methodist in three sets Sunday at Charles Koch Arena.

Wichita State volleyball kicks off its season on Saturday with a home exhibition against Kansas.

The Shockers bring in a group of 11 newcomers, including eight true freshman, into the exhibition. The questions of who will play where will start to get answered when the team takes the court Saturday.

Playing time at the middle blocker, setter and libero positions will all be up for grabs as the season gets started.

The Shockers return just 38.7% of blocking, which is just four out of 12 players who recorded a block last season. Emma Wright, 55.0 blocks, Brooke Smith, 39.0 blocks, Megan Taflinger, 32.0 blocks and Kora Kauling, 11.0 blocks, are the returnees. Wright and Smith are the only middle blockers from the list to return as Taflinger, outside hitter, and Kauling, setter, play different positions.

Other middle blockers in the mix for playing time include: Damadj Johnson, a senior transfer from Indiana State and Chinelo Ogogor, a redshirt freshman.

Head coach Chris Lamb brought back just one returning setter, Kauling, and introduced freshman Kayce Litzau and Nevada transfer McKayla Wuensch this summer. Kauling replaced Kali Eaken last season after she went down with a knee injury, but playing time will still be on the table this season.

One spot that Lamb wasn’t preparing on being open was libero. All-conference selection Giorgia Civita went down with a season-ending knee injury this summer, which means Lamb will be on the lookout for a starting defensive specialist.

WSU will have four options at replacing Civita, but just one non-freshman in Kara Bown. Bown played in 103 sets last year, recording 189 digs which was third-best on the team.

The three freshman liberos fighting for playing time are Arianna Arjomand, Shea Lauria and Lily Liekweg.

Lamb has been trying to set up a preseason exhibition with the Jayhawks for the previous two seasons, but garnered no success. With cleared schedules this year, Kansas accepted. According to GoShockers, Lamb said WSU will “likely” travel to Lawrence for another exhibition next summer.

Fans will get their first look at the new Shockers on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. inside Charles Koch Arena. The game will also broadcast on Cox Yurview.