Wichita State’s route to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and a meeting with host Kansas was not easy Friday night.
The Shockers, who are in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament for the sixth straight season, found themselves in a difficult situation after two sets. Arkansas, playing aggressive and confidently, made large runs in both the first and second sets to set the Shockers reeling.
Arkansas claimed an easy 25-16 victory in the opening set and a closer 27-25 second-set win.
Playing four freshmen, two sophomores, four juniors and the senior tandem of Emily Adney and Jackie Church, Wichita State seemed overmatched against an Arkansas team making its first NCAA appearance since 2006.
However, the Shockers rallied to win the final three sets, 25-17, 25-23, 15-10, and stay alive in the elimination tournament, improving to 23-9 on the season.
“To be down 2-0 and come back and beat a team like that was amazing,” Lamb said. “More specifically I think 40 percent of my game plan, we threw out the door on defense. We played some cat and mouse which was great for us. We do that all the time so we felt comfortable doing that.”
The strategic changes and career play from middle blocker Ashley Andrade helped Wichita State rally from its two-set deficit to win the final three sets and end Arkansas’ season with a 22-10 record.
Andrade set a school NCAA Tournament record with a personal best and team-season best 23 kills and a .564 hitting percentage.
“If I have a middle attacker who can lead the match in points scored, a lot of things have to be working well for that to happen,” Lamb said.
The Shockers bounced back from everything Arkansas sent their way and responded by closing the last three sets strong.
Wichita State scored the final six points of the third set to win 25-17. The Shockers recorded the final three points of the fourth set to win 25-23 and closed the match strong by scoring the final five points of the fifth set to win 15-10.
Wichita State, now 23-9 on the season, has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.