Wichita State’s volleyball team leaves for Hawaii on Tuesday, starting a stretch of three tournaments in which the Shockers will prove themselves worthy of an NCAA at-large spot, or drop back into the pack. The Shockers start with Arizona (Aug. 26) and No. 10 Hawaii (Aug. 27). The non-conference schedule also includes matches against No. 15 Colorado State, No. 16 Oklahoma (Sept. 14 at Koch Arena), Louisville and Mississippi.
Some thoughts from coach Chris Lamb:
- WSU will start the season running a 5-1. Senior Mary Elizabeth Hooper and sophomore Chelsey Feekin will both set this weekend as the coaches begin to see what approach works best. WSU hasn’t practiced the 6-2, although Lamb isn’t ruling out that offense down the future. “Setting would have to be considered a strength,” Lamb said. “They will both play this weekend. We’re going to watch some things happen, and see what happens.”
- WSU’s left-side hitters are expected to be the strength of the offense. Their performance in fall practices hasn’t changed that outlook. Junior Emily Adney is a returning All-MVC pick. Senior Camri Zwiesler is wowing Lamb. “This girl could have an MVP season,” Lamb said. “I think she knows her value and she knows she can have an amazing year. I think she’s got everything she needs to have one of the best seasons a Shocker has ever had.”
- What does Lamb like most five days before the opener? “The defense is organized and ready,” he said. “You’re always waiting to see if the ball speed in our gym and the tempo in our gym is adequate to the top teams. If teams play faster, if teams hit harder, if teams hit higher – you’re always kind of waiting to see if what you’re doing in your gym is as good or better.”
- Lamb is close friends with Arizona coach Dave Rubio. So it will be fun to see him, but the familiarity is of limited use this weekend. There is no film to study and the scouting reports will be much smaller than during the MVC season. “We talk volleyball 200 times a week, but it’s not like I’m watching their team play hardly anymore,” Lamb said. “I know what they’re about, I what they’re trying to do. But, again, I don’t really know their players.”
- Right-side Sam Sanders showed flashes of her power and athletic ability last season, but a hip injury limited her minutes. She is healthy and she often draws the oohs and aahs during practice with her spikes. “Some people might look at her and think she’s the most physical player in our gym,” Lamb said.