Volleyball ready to host first home games of young season

Sports Editor

Lots of collegiate athletics fans don’t realize that volleyball has RPI rankings just like college basketball does. RPI stands for Ratings Percentage Index and is “a quantity used to rank sports teams based upon a team’s wins and losses and its strength of schedule.”

In volleyball, just like basketball, the RPI rankings are a big determining factor in post-season play. When the NCAA selection committees select the teams for the NCAA Tournament, they rely on RPI to help with the seeding and selection of teams.

Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb believes in trying to get his teams RPI as high as it can by the end of the season.

“If you think you’re a good team and you’re going to have a successful conference season you can’t really make an argument that you shouldn’t schedule winning teams,” Lamb said.

Playing and beating winning teams is one way to boost a team’s RPI ranking. Over the years Lamb has tried to schedule winning teams during the regular season to boost his team’s RPI, which then translates into NCAA Tournament appearances.

“I think we’ve been smart with our scheduling over the years and it has turned itself into postseason opportunities,” Lamb said.

Tonight the Shockers will kick off the Shocker Volleyball Classic at 7 p.m. against 24th-ranked Colorado State. The Rams are currently 3-0 after sweeping all three teams in the Rams Volleyball Rocky Mountain Invitational.

“We go to their place and play so that they will come back to our place,” Lamb said of hosting three highly regarded teams at home.

The Shockers will then play BYU on Friday, who is receiving votes in the NCAA polls, at 7 p.m. in Koch Arena. On Sunday, Tennessee will play WSU at 1 p.m. in Koch Arena. Tennessee is ranked 14th in the nation and is 2-1. The Volunteers only loss came to Florida State, who is a Final Four team from last season.

“We had to get a third team in here and how are you going to say no to a top, top team like Tennessee,” Lamb said. “I’m excited to play them.”

The Shockers will rely on multiple players to compete against some of the top programs in the country this weekend. Last week senior libero Jackie Church earned MVC Defensive Player of the Week honors. At the NIU Invitational, Church, along with Elizabeth Field, earned all-tournament honors.

“Jackie was probably our best player last weekend,” Lamb said. “She’s always going to be up there with over six digs a game, but what puts you up there is your passing. She passed above our standards, which is difficult to do.

“If you look at any of our players and say who played the best, she played the best. It was fun that the Valley acknowledged it.”

Another player that Lamb had high remarks from the past weekend were juniors Sam Sanders and Chelsey Feekin.

“Even though Sam got a lot of court time last year, I feel this is kind of a coming out party for her,” Lamb said. “She had a good spring, we think she’s about as healthy as she can. I feel like we’re ready to see Sam have that season.”

Feekin was playing in her first regular season games as the Shockers primary setter this past weekend.

“Chelsey’s done everything we’ve asked her to do. She’s waited a long time for her opportunity and it’s just a great story,” Lamb said.

The Shockers will need to focus on scoring this weekend to compete against BYU, CSU and Tennessee. A win over any of the teams would be a boost in the Shockers RPI as they strive for a sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

“We need to increase our scoring rate. If you look at our loss to New Mexico State it was night and day the scoring they got versus us,” Lamb said. “That just has to get better.”