Shocker volleyball drops KU, advances to Sweet 16

In six previous trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Wichita State volleyball team had advanced to the round of 32 on four occasions. 

Not once had they ever made it past that point. 

All this changed on Saturday when the Shockers rallied to defeat the University of Kansas 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-21) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, held in Lawrence, Kan.

“Honestly, how many mid-majors are in the Sweet 16 ever?” WSU coach Chris Lamb said. “We think we made quite a statement today and these things don’t come around every day, so we are going to enjoy it.”

The only other team not from a major conference to have made it through to the Sweet 16 this year is Brigham Young, out of the West Coast Conference. WSU lost 3-2 to BYU in Wichita on Aug. 31. 

The Shockers’ first-ever Sweet 16 game will take place on Friday in Austin, Texas, against the University of Southern California. 

USC, out of the Pac-12 Conference, is 29-5 and a national 6-seed in the tournament. In the final AVCA coaches poll of the season, last updated on Nov. 19, the Trojans were ranked No. 4 in the country. 

“The Shockers are going to come (to Texas), and the Shockers are going to play hard,” Lamb said. “We’re going to find a game plan and give everything we have.”

Lamb knows the importance of playing teams from larger conferences, both in terms of boosting a resume and also for developing a team. 

WSU (26-7) defeated Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday before defeating Kansas. 

Now the Shockers will have a chance to beat yet another big name in USC this week.

“We want to be big game hunters,” Lamb said. “You want to have that mentality. The girls will feel a lot better playing USC than heading to Terre Haute in November in conference. This is fun and exciting. We are pretty good this way. We play a lot of these teams every spring and we play them tough and we have a blast doing it.”