We interrupt your spring for Shocker volleyball

WSU's Sarah Waldorf (4) and Jackie Church (10).

Some bullets from a few minutes with Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb this morning to wrap up his team’s spring season. The Shockers played in four tournaments, facing competition such as Texas, Nebraska, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Kansas State, UMKC and Baylor. Results are secondary to the experimenting and shuffling that goes on in preparation for the fall.

  • Setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper (stress fractures) and middle Ashley Andrade (knee surgery) didn’t play in tournaments. Hooper did limited practicing, not jumping to protect her legs. Andrade didn’t practice.
  • Lamb targeted serving and passing for major upgrades. “I know that was an area of concern throughout the season last year,” he said. “A ton of time went into it, a lot more attention to detail and technique. I thought: Mission Accomplished. I’m really proud, not just of the usual suspects getting better, but more people . . .”
  • Liberos Sarah Waldorf, Jackie Church and Kelsey Banwart needed to take the lead on the passing, and Lamb liked their progress. “I have challenged our littles to be great,” he said. “As a group, I thought our liberos had an average season last year. If you looked at the top teams in the Valley, at that position we were outplayed in matches last year. They need to get better. They need to be a factor. This spring matters. I was very pleased with Sarah, Jackie and Kelsey. Kelsey is starting to look like a natural at serve-receive. Her accuracy has been very good. Sarah and Jackie both made big improvement in the last two months at accuracy. As a group, those guys have come a long way. They needed to.”
  • With Hooper taking it easy, sophomore-to-be  Chelsey Feekin handled setting. Her performance, not surprisingly to Lamb, will make for an interesting fall when it comes time to decide how to use both. “She grew so much,” Lamb said. “Opportunities present themselves in athletics. This was a chance for her to be THE girl, be very, very busy and be in the spotlight. All she did was perform. She was really, really good.”
  • Lamb isn’t sure how healthy either Hooper or Andrade will be fall practices start in August. How quickly they return to health will determine how his lineup forms. “You have to take inventory of your assets,” he said.
  • Sophomore-to-be Brianna Kaiser, an outside hitter, also made strides this spring. “Kaiser had an amazing spring,” Lamb said. “She really turned the corner.”
  • Senior-to-be Camri Zwiesler led WSU in kills and ranked second in digs in 2010. Lamb wants to give her more work in the fall. “Camri may be the busiest player in the conference,” he said. “I could see us using Camri 100 different ways. She might block two places. She’s going to attack everywhere. She might attack out of the back row. Her serving and passing has improved.”
  • WSU won’t hold a tournament this fall. Lamb had trouble getting teams signed on, which made Oklahoma coach Santiago Restrepo nervous about the quality of competition. He began to look at other options. Without OU to draw opponents, Lamb decided to shelve the tournament for this season.  The good news is, OU will come to Wichita for a mid-week game on Sept. 14.
  • WSU will play Arizona, Hawaii and San Francisco in Hawaii. It travels to Louisville, where it meets Louisville, Mississippi and Eastern Illinois. At Colorado State, the Shockers play CSU, Northern Colorado and a possible third opponent. Lamb is looking for another mid-week opponent.
  • The bonus:  Colorado State will play in WSU’s tournament in 2012 (along with BYU). Lamb wants to target an elite opponent to add to that strong field. “That ought to attract a heavy hitter,” he said. “I can’t imagine someone really good wouldn’t want a piece of that. I’m going to be all over these guys.” Louisville comes to Wichita in 2013.
  • Audrey Biggs (6-foot-1) of Pleasant Grove High and the Utah Peak Performance club signed with WSU this spring. “She can play three positions and she’s got a great arm,” Lamb said. “She’s really competitive. You don’t know exactly what her role is going to be, you just know you want her.”