Volleyball finishes Shocker Volleyball Classic with 1-2 record


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

The Wichita State volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point during their match against Creighton on Sept. 18 inside Charles Koch Arena.

A healthier Wichita State volleyball team made its home debut this weekend, After dealing COVID-19 related issues over the past two weeks. The Shockers finished the weekend with a 1-2 record during the Shocker Volleyball Classic. 

WSU’s roster returned to full strength in practice earlier this week, just two weeks after withdrawing from the SD Invite due to COVID-19 issues. During last week’s Kansas Invitational the Shockers were limited to 12 of its 18 players but Brylee Kelly and Morgan Stout made their returns to the lineup this weekend. 

In the first game of the tournament, WSU defeated South Dakota in five sets in its home opener and the first game of the Shocker Volleyball Classic on Friday. 

The Shockers took two of the first three sets but could not close it out in the fourth set. WSU took a late 13-8 lead in the decisive, fifth set but South Dakota battled back to tie the game at 13, with a 5-0 run. 

The Shockers finished off the match with sophomore Kayce Litzau clinching the match with a service ace.

“I think that’s the big difference in the past teams, too,” redshirt sophomore Brylee Kelly said. “We’re still so young but it shows that we still have grit and we can fight. We were a little rattled and then we got in the huddle and composed ourselves and they made a serving error and everything kind of fell in our favor. It shows that we’re kind of mature for being so young.”

In the second match of the tournament, the Shockers fell to Wyoming in four sets —  just 12 hours after their match concluded against South Dakota. WSUdropped the first two sets after struggling to find a spark. 

The Shockers fought back in the third set, winning 25-20 and forcing a fourth set. The Cowboys were able to seal the victory in the fourth set, 25-16. 

“It’s important,” Lamb said. “There’s battles you win, there’s wars you lose, you can’t ever let them see you phone it in. That’s the dialogue we talk about all the time and we’ll try to build on that.”

In the final game of the Shocker Volleyball Classic, the Shockers were swept by No. 17 Creighton in three sets. WSU kept the first two sets close, with both sets tied heading into the final points, but the Bluejays pulled away late. 

“I think we can take away that we can battle with the big dogs, Creighton came in ranked No. 17 and we were down three points every set,” Kelly said. “I think we learned that we can compete when we’re not at our best because we’re not and we’re still down a couple players with protocols.”

Redshirt sophomore Brylee Kelly led the team offensively in the three games, with a team-high 38 kills in her first action back in over two weeks. Kelly said she only practiced for three days leading up to the game due to quarantine and struggled to regain her rhythm early on.

“I got three practices in and I just knew that I could help impact the team and we were growing already without the players we had,” Kelly said. “I just fought my way through it, I took 14 days off so I’m a little rusty but the team was there to cheer me on and let me know I can do it. That’s what’s great about this team this year is we all have each other’s backs.”

The shorthanded roster has played a big role for setter Kayce Litzau – who finished with 77 assists this weekend – in finding some chemistry with the hitters. Litzau said that practice is typically where they work on that, but those reps have limited so far this season.

“It’s really important to get our team chemistry going and for me, setting the hitters like I didn’t have 14 days with Brylee so we had a few missed connections out there but we know we just have to keep working on it,” Litzau said. “It’s just a matter of getting the reps in.”

Lamb said that with the Shockers closer to full strength, it will allow them to gameplan for the games ahead.

“This young team of ours is going to have to figure out where we’re going to find scoring but I feel like we’re finding our way defensively,” Lamb said. “I believe some time to start focusing on teams, COVID had us missing a lot of players in the gym and we’ve been focusing on our team and now we’re going to put some time into our upcoming opponents.”

The Shockers will open up conference play on Friday against Tulane. Due to the after effects of Hurricane Ida, WSU will face off against the Green Wave at Houston’s Fertitta Center, before their matchup at Houston on Sunday.