DALLAS, Texas— Trailing two sets to one and without star middle Natalie Foster due to injury, Wichita State rallied for a thrilling five-set win at SMU, 20-25, 26-24, 17-25, 25-19, 15-12.
It's the sixth win in the last seven tries for Wichita State (17-12, 12-6), who avenged a three-set defeat to the Mustangs on October 9.
The Shockers trailed 2-1 in sets and 15-13 in the fourth when Foster turned an ankle attempting to block a ball tight to the net. Without their most efficient offensive weapon, Wichita State regrouped and battled back, surging in front with a 6-0 run. Sophia Rohling and Morgan Weber produced emphatic kills to take the lead at 21-17, and SMU got no closer than four points the rest of the way. Defensive specialist Annalie Heliste provided the winner, sending a pass over the net that landed perfectly on the SMU side for her first kill of the season.
Wichita State struck first in the fifth set, taking a 6-1 lead with help from three Morgan Stout kills. The Mustangs (21-10, 14-5) slowly but surely chipped away at the early deficit, eventually drawing level at 12-12 when Jadyn Bauss terminated her match-high 18th kill. With the match hanging in the balance, Rohling put WSU back in front with a kill on the right pin, then Morgan Weber and Stout combined for a rejection on 6'6 SMU attacker Marieke van der Mark to bring the Shockers to match point. A furious rally followed, with Morgan Weber hammering a ball off the SMU block into the scorer's table for the match-winning kill.
The Shockers won despite not having a single player reach double-digit kills. Rohling and Brylee Kelly each had nine, Foster and Stout produced eight apiece, Weber had seven and Kayce Litzau notched a season-best six.
Defensively, libero Lily Liekweg had a team-high 22 digs, reaching 1,000 for her collegiate career. She also added two of Wichita State's seven service aces. Stout spearheaded a Shocker block that compiled 16 rejections; the sophomore had a season-high ten blocks to go along with eight kills.
SMU used a late surge to blow open the first set. The Shockers had battled back to tie at 17-17, but the Mustangs scored three in a row down the stretch to take the opener. Wichita State answered in the second set despite trailing for much of the stanza. SMU led 23-19 following a van der Mark kill, and later had set point at 24-23 when Jamison Wheeler terminated. The Shockers responded with three straight points, as Kelly crushed a kill through the block, SMU committed a ball-handling error, and Litzau rolled the ensuing serve off the tape and in to even the match at a set apiece.
As a team, Wichita State had 15 fewer kills (65-50), a worse hitting percentage (.165-.160), fewer aces (11-7) and fewer digs (85-73), but made up the difference with seven more blocks and 12 fewer attack errors.
The Shockers wrap up the regular season on Friday afternoon at Memphis. First serve is scheduled for 1:00 pm.