Back in NCAA tournament, volleyball to face Shockers

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After ending a three-year NCAA tournament drought, the Wildcats volleyball team looks to continue their season as they take on the Wichita State Shockers at 4:30 in Lincoln, Neb., on Thursday.

The Shockers (21-10) are coming off a third-place finish in the regular season in the Missouri Valley Conference, but lost in the conference tournament final to Northern Illinois.

Wichita State is led by a balanced offensive attack. The Shockers have five hitters with over 200 kills in the season while the Wildcats only have two. Emily Adney is the leader on the team with 380 kills and an attacking percentage of .376. This balanced offensive attack is led by setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper. Her ability to run the offense and keep everyone involved on the offensive end is one of the main reasons to that the Shockers are going to the NCAA tournament.

K-State (20-10) will not have quite the offensive balance as the Shockers, but their offensive success also lies in their setter’s hands. Caitlyn Donahue came to K-State as one of the best outside hitters in the senior class as she was named to prepvolleyball.com’s top 100 as a senior. After starting as an outside hitter as a freshman, she switched to defensive specialist midway through and finished the year there. She moved to setter prior to her sophomore year, and has emerged as the Wildcats’ lead setter the past two years.

On the season, Donahue has 1205 assists on the year, good for just over 11.06 assists per set. Her ability to set the ball has allowed the Wildcat hitters the opportunities to get points.

Another key to the Wildcats’ emergence as a tournament team is the defense. Kaitlynn Pelger and Alex Muff are the key on the defensive end. Both Pelger and Muff have over 100 kills on the season, and they both have the ability to shut down kills by the other teams. Their defense will be a key in this match as they play a team with so many offensive weapons that can get the Shockers points.

The Wildcats have faced three MVC teams this season in Missouri State, Creighton and Drake, and won all three matches. However, two of those matches went five sets.

Wichita State will present the Wildcats with a challenge as they are a very versatile offense that can score from anywhere on the court.

The game will be aired on KMAN-AM 1350 with Rob Voelker with the call.

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