Taflinger: “It’s all about this year”

Wichita State sophomore Megan Taflinger is embracing her new role as a leader for the young Shockers. She's also hoping the team can write a new narrative after a disappointing season a year ago.

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Khánh Nguyễn

Wichita State redshirt sophomore Megan Taflinger celebrates with teammates after scoring against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.

Wichita State was supposed to wreck havoc in the American Athletic Conference a season ago after being picked to win the conference. The team was coming off of a NCAA tournament appearance and an undefeated conference season. But after an array of injuries, the Shockers fell off and failed to record a .500 record, finishing the season 14-16.

One bright spot out of the season, however, was then redshirt freshman Megan Taflinger. Taflinger budded into a shining star for the Shockers, recording team-highs in kills per set, 2.97, and hitting percentage, .206. But this is a new season for WSU and Taflinger, and with a new team comes new responsibilities.

In the offseason, 13 members from the 2018 roster departed. This year, the roster features 11 newcomers, which includes eight true freshman. Taflinger, who is one of the lone returners that didn’t miss significant time last year with injuries, knows her leadership role is important.

“My role right now is to help the team grow and get better everyday,” Taflinger said. “I certainly would like to think that I am becoming a leader, and that the freshman are looking towards me for help or to make sure we are on the right page.”

Skepticism arrose on how the team would look in the opening exhibition match against Kansas on Aug. 17. The team was going to be without all-conference libero Giorgia Civita, who is out of the season with a knee injury, and the Jayhawks also came into the match receiving votes in the AVCA poll.

But the Shockers came to play.

After taking KU to five sets, playing every freshman on the roster, and interchanging lineups constantly, Taflinger and the team came out of the match feeling confident.

“We were defiently excited to play KU, but we were just kind of like, ‘Let’s see how this goes,'” Taflinger said. “We knew it was going to be a lot different being out there with a lot of different lineups and players on the floor. Even though we technically lost the scrimmage, we definitely had a good feeling and knew that we could’ve won with a constant lineup in the game.

We feel good going forward.”

One thing Taflinger said she wants to get off of the table is the talk of last season. With so many new faces, she believes that a new narrative will help the team moving forward.

“We know last year wasn’t what we wanted it to be,” Taflinger said. “But we don’t want to dwell on it — we want to throw it out the window.

This year, it’s all about this year.”

Taflinger said she is encouraged by the energy the newcomers are bringing with them on a day-to-day basis. She said she also enjoys that the entire team has a sense of camaraderie.

“Everyone is meshing together. There isn’t any groups this year,” Taflinger said. “All the newcomers are bringing energy — they all contribute to the team. They just all fit in, and that’ll help us in the long run. Everyone wants to create a new narrative for this team, and everyone is buying in, and that’s really great to see.”

Khánh Nguyễn
Wichita State redshirt sophomore Megan Taflinger serves the ball during the exhibition game against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.