Chris Lamb took the placard with his name and moved it from the center of the postgame press table to the far left, Lamb’s usual spot.
The Wichita State volleyball coach isn’t breaking from the norm and neither are the Shockers. In an unfamiliar situation – its first time hosting an NCAA regional – WSU continued its string of dominance.
A 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-15) win over Radford on Friday night at Koch Arena was WSU’s 10th straight sweep, and the Shockers have won 32 straight sets over 11 matches. On Friday, they showed off in front of 7,257 fans, an arena volleyball record.
The winning has become so customary that as Lamb sat in his usual seat, he barely talked about Friday’s win. The most frequent topics were the feelings over hosting for the first time and Saturday’s regional final against Missouri.
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“I wish every team and every team and every athlete could feel how fun it was in 2003, (2004 and 2005), when we were up and coming,” Lamb said. “I guess one good thing about being taken for granted is you must have been doing something good for a long time. But I do wish that everybody got to experience the fun of doing something new.
“These guys haven’t been in this position. But that’s just what we are now.”
WSU (29-3) can advance to its second round of 16 appearance by beating Missouri on Saturday. That match figures to break WSU’s string of sweeps, but the Shockers have allowed 20 or more points in three of the last 32 sets and it’s difficult to put limitations on how long they can stay hot.
Evidence for an 11th straight sweep is provided nearly every match by a trio of hitters – which became a quartet on Friday – that has been nearly impossible to stop.
Abbie Lehman, Tabitha Brown and Mikaela Raudsepp have been WSU’s most productive offensive players and often have standout matches on the same night. That happened again on Friday, as the three combined for 36 kills and each had at least six kills in one set.
Alex Koon added 10 kills – six in the third set – making setter Emily Heibert’s night difficult only because she was tasked with spreading the wealth.
“I think Emily is definitely aware of who is doing well and who has the hot hand,” Lehman said. “If it’s a night like tonight, everyone had a hot hand tonight. She can spread it around as much as she wants, and I think she tries to do that every game.”
WSU made nine errors in 100 attempts and had a .440 hitting percents. Hiebert had 42 assists, nine digs, three assists and a block. Georgia Civita had 15 digs and five assists.
All of the statistics were similar to most of WSU’s matches this season. Just about everything else – the crowd, the experience of hosting postseason play – was different.
“The fact that we hosted was a lot,” Lamb said. “I’m proud that we (handled) it, but it was not going away. It was going to be the noise of the week. We couldn’t run from it, we just dealt with it – and so far, so good.”