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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Volleyball blazes past UAB on senior night

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Kristy Mace
Outside hitter Brylee Kelly celebrates with her team after a successful play.

In a match that never felt close from the opening serve, Wichita State volleyball dominated the University of Alabama at Birmingham, 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-10), to close out the regular season.

On senior night, it was fitting that senior hitter Brylee Kelly scored the opening kill for the Shockers and junior hitter Morgan Weber finished the match with two kills of her own.

Wichita State led the entirety of the first set. The Shockers started the match with a 7-2 run and never allowed UAB to cut its lead below 4 the rest of the way.

The Blazers kept the second set close at first. Wichita State led 6-5 before a 7-1 run gave the Shockers momentum that carried into the third set, where the team opened with a 6-1 lead that wouldn’t be relinquished.

Junior blocker Morgan Stout led Wichita State with 13 kills on an efficient .524 hitting percentage. Stout attributed her success to continuous reps in practice, even though she claims that she wasn’t working well with senior setter Izzi Strand this week.

“It’s just a blessing to go out on the court and just connect like that,” Stout said. “When everyone’s on the same page, and everything’s just clean … I’m playing my best volleyball.”

Strand led the Shockers with 35 assists, including 15 in the first set, while senior opposite Sophia Rohling had 12 kills in the match. As a team, Wichita State played excellent defense, holding UAB to a .012 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Gabi Maas led the way with 11 digs.

In her final regular season game at Charles Koch Arena after 6 years with the team, Kelly had 7 kills and five blocks. She said that after joining the team during a “rebuilding” period, she’s happy to leave with the success they had this year.

“This has been home,” Kelly said. “Many of the people have impacted me. This program has impacted me, and now we’re back to being great Wichita State volleyball, and that was the goal when I came here.”

While most volleyball teams around the country prepared for conference tournaments last weekend, the AAC only grants an automatic NCAA Tournament bid to the regular season conference champion. Wichita State finished second in the conference, three games behind Southern Methodist University.

Head coach Chris Lamb claimed that coaches who “aren’t here anymore” voted against a conference tournament for “selfish” reasons.

“Every other sport in our conference has a tournament,” Lamb said. “They’re hung up on Thanksgiving when all the other conferences are playing. They’re hung up on football games. And we know ways to get around it and plenty of ways to still work through that.”

Lamb said the AAC will have a conference tournament next year, but for this season, both Kelly and Stout referred to the lack of a tournament as a “lost opportunity.”

“We’re definitely good enough to go to the tournament right now,” Stout said. “We’re here showing people our best selves right now. We’re kind of used to being the underdog, and it’d be kind of nice to beat those big dogs out there and show people what Wichita State is about.”

At 21-8 and 15-4 in conference play, Wichita State accepted a bid to participate in the 2023 National Invitational Volleyball Championship. The Shockers will open play on Thursday, Nov. 30, in Charles Koch Arena against Arkansas State. The first serve is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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About the Contributors
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, 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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