Anderson, Shockers using non-conference slate as motivation


Easton Thompson

Wichita State teammembers congratulate Kansas University on their win of the exhibition on Aug. 17 in Charles Koch Arena.

Last week marked the start of the 2019 volleyball season for Wichita State. The team, which features 11 newcomers — including eight freshmen — went into the weekend surrounded by an air of skepticism, but emerged with a 2-1 record.

The road ahead for the Shockers could provide several bumps in the road before conference play is even slated to start. Last week, the Shockers played two teams inside the top-60 for RPI — No. 12 Penn State, which is also ranked No. 8 by the NCAA, and No. 58 Hofstra. This week, during the Cal Poly Classic, WSU will have to face another top-60 RPI team in Cal Poly, who comes in at No. 23.

It doesn’t get any easier for WSU from there. In the near future, Chris Lamb’s team will have matchups with No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Texas, No. 13 BYU, and No. 23 Creighton. Virginia Commonwealth, a team with the No.-64 RPI in the country, is also on the schedule.

The schedule could be somewhat daunting for a young team, but the Shockers appear to be embracing the challenge. One freshman, Nicole Anderson, even called it “exciting.”

“I love our schedule, and I think I can speak for the team when I say we are pumped,” Anderson said. “A lot of people can look at this schedule and be pessimistic, like a ‘we’re doomed’ mentality, but that’s not at all what our mentality is.

“We’re ready for it. I love being the underdog.”

Future matches aside, Anderson said she and the Shockers are focused on this weekend’s tournaments. She said she was “happy with how last weekend went,” but understood it was time to move forward and keep working.

“We were happy with how the weekend went, but now the mindset is, ‘Who’s next?’” Anderson said. “We are working hard in practice again, and we focused the practices on what we needed to work on from last weekend.”

Anderson mentioned that the team has been working on different plays — free-ball passes in particular. She said the focus has been “mostly offense.” 

In the team’s season-opening tournament, the Penn State Classic, the Shockers were outhit 136-116 and tallied 54 total hitting errors. The team’s hitting percentage sits at just .182, which holds room for improvement.

Freshman Sophia Rohling returned to match play, making her first collegiate start against Penn State after missing time with a strained abdominal muscle. Rohling led the team with five kills against the Nittany Lions, and could be an offensive asset in the Mustang Challenge.

“We’ve worked hard this week, and are ready for this weekend,” Anderson said.

The Shockers’ first match of the Mustang Challenge is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. against San Jose State.