‘We know that the pressure is on:’ volleyball’s expectations are high


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Wichita State players celebrate after a win against Kent State University on September 10 at Horejsi Family Volleyball Center.

After overcoming injuries and doubt from conference opponents in 2021, Wichita State Volleyball’s expectations are high as they prepare to start their season in a few weeks. 

Last season, the Shockers were picked to finish eighth out of twelve teams in the American Athletic Conference in the preseason coaches poll. However, the Shockers concluded with a fifth-place finish. The Shockers finished with an overall record of 19-10, with a roster that included 18 freshman and sophomores. About 90% of the roster is back for the 2022 season.

“I expect us to play a better brand of volleyball this year,” Head Coach Chris Lamb said. “We’re trying to build off what we put together last spring.”

Despite there being no seniors on the roster, redshirt junior outside hitter Brylee Kelly has emerged as a leader on the team. 

“This is the Brylee we thought we would be getting someday,” Lamb said. 

Last season, Kelly was unanimously named First Team All-Conference and was the only underclassman in the AAC ranked in the top five in both kills and points per set. 

Kelly said the opportunity she has had to be in the program for several years has helped her gain leadership qualities.

“The role was there, and I grabbed it right away, and we all kind of started connecting well,” Kelly said. “We were young, so I stepped into the role and was like, my team needs me, now.

Sophomore Morgan Stout returns as a middle blocker for the Shockers. Stout suffered through leg injuries last season but said she is feeling confident to perform this season. Last season, Stout had 0.91 blocks per set, the second-most amongst AAC freshmen. 

“I feel like I’m always hungry and there’s always something that I can improve on,” Stout said. 

Junior setter Kayce Litzau said that the Shocker’s goal is to compete and improve every single day. Litzau was named Second Team All-Conference after playing in 27 matches and 109 sets. 

“We play against each other every day, but to see it on the court, on the big stage it’s a very different thing,” Litzau said. “We know that the pressure is on with doing so well last season.”

Stout said the goal for this season is to keep the same mentality of trying to improve on and off the court as a team. 

“We have got to stay hungry every single day not just in games, but in practices,” Stout said.

The Shockers finalized their 2022 schedule in late June.

Wichita State will open its season at the Rumble in the Rockies tournament, where they will face off against Wyoming, Creighton, and Iowa State on August 26. The first match will begin at 1 p.m. against Wyoming. 

The Shockers will begin conference play against Temple at home on Sept. 23. The match will start at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.