‘We fought to the end:’ WSU volleyball wins fourth straight in five-set victory over East Carolina


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Freshman Morgan Stout celebrates after a point during their game against East Carolina on Oct. 15 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Wichita State volleyball rallied to defeat East Carolina in five sets on Friday, extending its winning streak to four straight matches. It’s the first time since WSU’s undefeated run through the American Athletic Conference in 2017, that the Shockers have won four straight matches in AAC play. 

The Shockers took the opening set handily, 25-12, but dropped sets two and three to the Pirates. The Shockers found themselves trailing 11-7 in the fourth set, but answered with a 18-10 run to force a fifth set and regain the momentum.

“I think we did a better job of not freaking out in situations,” sophomore Kayce Litzau said. “We were talking more, we were communicating more and then we were also just not making errors, not giving them an easy way out. I think we did a better job of having confidence in ourselves as well as just fighting. We fought to the end.”

The Shockers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the final set, before closing out a 15-10 victory to cap off the comeback. WSU also improved to 5-1 in fifth sets with the comeback win.

“What I was really proud of was we grabbed back our focus,” redshirt sophomore Brylee Kelly said. “We lost the focus in sets two and three, we were making errors that we normally wouldn’t but we grabbed our focus back and I think that’s what helped us dial set four and five. Even if we did make an error it didn’t affect us as much.”

Head coach Chris Lamb inserted freshman Kailin Newsome into the lineup after the team trailed in the fourth set. Newsome was sidelined with an injury since the conference opener against Tulane on Sept. 23, when she tallied a season-high 18 kills. 

Newsome contributed five kills and four digs in her first game action in four weeks.

“It was really good,” Litzau said. “We were struggling there for a while so having her bring new energy, new legs, just some more aggressiveness is really what we needed. It sparked a fire under all of us and we were able to pull through and she was a big part of that.”

Freshman Natalie Foster made two of her 13 kills in the fifth set, while recording double-digit kills for the third straight game. Litzau said that Foster’s communication played a pivotal role in their connection in the final set.

“I think just feeling her presence helps me a lot, just hearing her talk or call for the set, it’s really important,” Litzau said. “We just connected, she found the seams and we’ve done it before but we just couldn’t connect earlier in the game. Being able to do it in the fifth was really crucial.”

Brylee Kelly led the Shockers with 21 kills – the second straight game she’s had 20 or more kills – on a .381 hitting percentage. Setter Kayce Litzau continued her solid stretch of play with 54 assists in the match, leading the Shockers to a .242 hitting percentage.

“I think I just located the ball in a spot where the hitter can have choices,” Litzau said. “Even if it’s not perfect, there’s usually balls that can still be hit and still be aggressive on. Also with that, setting hitters more often. It makes it easier to connect.”

The Shockers will go against first-place Cincinnati on Sunday at 1 p.m. The match will also be broadcast on ESPN+.