Thompson, Cincinnati spoil Shockers’ home opener 3-1

Grant Cohen

Wichita State head volleyball coach Chris Lamb knew that he was facing an elite player in Cincinnati’s sophomore outside hitter Jordan Thompson. Thompson had won the 2015 American Athletic Conference freshman of the year and was a unanimous selection as a first team All-Conference selection.

Averaging 4.64 kills per set in the Bearcats first three games, Thompson gave the Shocker’s defense fits with 25 kills off of a .316 attacking percentage with 12 digs. This led Cincinnati to a 3-1 victory over WSU at Koch Arena in the first game of the Shocker Classic Friday night

“You saw how talented (Thompson) is,” Lamb said. “She made her share of digs. She’s an elite player.”

The Shockers started out firing on all cylinders on offense in the first set, hitting .345 with 13 kills to pass the Bearcats 25-19. Cincinnati made the adjustments with their middle blockers up front, making life difficult to score for WSU in the second set.

Trailing 13-9, the Shockers were struggling to find any openings on the floor, hitting -.053. WSU was climbing back trailing only 21-19, scoring three straight points capped off by a block from junior outside hitter Mikaela Raudsepp and senior middle blocker Katy Dudzinski.

A kill by Thompson and WSU’s sixth service error of the game gave Cincinnati the second set victory heading into the break.

Junior middle blocker Abbie Lehman gave the Shockers an early set three lead by scoring two straight points, but Cincinnati soared out to another scoring run, leading 15-9 in the set. Senior outside hitter Jody Larson helped the Shockers keep the momentum in check, scoring off of five kills on her way to a team high of 15.

“When I went up, they were leaving two hands or leaving holes,” Larson said. “I was just hitting what I saw.”

An attacking error by Thompson cut the deficit 24-21 for WSU, but an immediate kill finished off the Shockers in set three 25-21.

Lehman started set four with two kills and a block to help the Shockers jump out to an early 3-0 lead. The Bearcats were able to tie up the set four, until a block from Larson and Lehman gave the Shockers a 12-11 lead.

“We swung into four hands a lot in the middle,” Lamb said. “It turned into an outside hitting challenge, and we couldn’t statistically keep up with that.”

Larson swung for a kill before a missed wideout allowed WSU to take a 17-15 lead. A block from sophomore outside hitter Tabitha Brown was able to extend the lead 19-16, before a Cincinnati timeout allowed the Bearcats to tie up the game off of two straight kills and a service ace.

Two kills from Lehman and a kill assisted from a set by junior setter Emily Hiebert took the Shockers to match point 24-23 with an opportunity to force a fifth set. A kill from Thompson tied up the game, starting a 3-0 scoring run to take the victory 3-1.

“Everyone is upset, of course, because we lost,” Hiebert said. “But we’re learning a lot from this.”

WSU (1-2) will face IUPUI at 1 p.m. and will face Marquette at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Koch Arena. Marquette won their first game over IUPUI on Friday, winning 3-0 in the opening match of the Shocker Classic.

“We expect a lot of this season,” Lamb said. “Hopefully we’ve found something from tonight. We are still searching for performance and that’s where you can see the coaches searching a little bit.”