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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State volleyball returns key players to build on last season

Kristy Mace
The WSU volleyball starting players huddle together before the start of the first set against Colorado on Sept. 9. This matchup was Colorado’s first time facing Wichita State.

After the team’s first postseason berth since 2017 last year, Wichita State volleyball is looking to compete at an even higher level this season.

Last year, an 18-13 season concluded with a nomination to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship Tournament. The Shockers lost in the first round to Grand Canyon University.

Five of the six players from Wichita State’s usual starting lineup last year have returned for another season. Returning senior hitter Brylee Kelly was voted preseason Conference Co-Player of the Year to start this campaign.

Last year’s team blocks leader, junior blocker Natalie Foster, and digs leader, senior outside hitter Morgan Weber also came back this year. They join junior blocker Morgan Stout and senior hitter Sophia Rohling to form a core that has largely remained stable the past few seasons.

Senior setter Kayce Litzau transferred to the University of Washington in the offseason. In her place, senior Izzi Strand joins the Shockers from UC San Diego.

Strand said she transferred to Wichita State because she wanted better coaching and a team that could win.

“I kind of found the best of both worlds,” Strand said. “I found a team that is very competitive, and we are definitely getting to the top. And then I also found a group of coaches that all have very different styles. If one thing is not working out, I can ask someone else.”

Head Coach Chris Lamb, entering his 24th season with Wichita State, identified junior libero Annalie Heliste as a player in line for more game time this year.

“I think Annalie has come a long way in the serve and pass game for us,” Lamb said. “That’s been a bright spot from last year to this year.”

Sophomore hitter Brooklyn Leggett is another player who has impressed Lamb early in the season.

“Brooklyn can provide some pop,” Lamb said. “The ball moves fast for her. She’s still trying to catch on and play at this level, but she’s got the arm talent. She is a physical girl, and it’s nice to see her go out there and find some success.”

Foster, entering her fourth year in the program, says that she has grown and developed into an impact player on the team.

“I try to be a leader, not necessarily with my voice sometimes but more in my actions,” Foster said. “I hope that the freshmen coming up can see that and hopefully follow in those footsteps.”

Wichita State was ranked third in the preseason American Athletic Conference West Division coaches’ poll.

“My personal goal for this team is to compete at the highest level we can, and my expectation of that is competing for the conference title,” Foster said.

The Shockers have begun the season with a 3-4 record, winning against Houston Christian, Illinois and Illinois State, and dropping games against Notre Dame, Texas Tech, #22 Kansas and Colorado.

The AAC regular season schedule gets underway on Sept. 20, when Wichita State goes on the road to face East Carolina.More information can be found at goshockers.com.

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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