Sept. 23, 2011
WICHITA, Kan. -
The Missouri State volleyball team remained unbeaten in Missouri Valley Conference play and cleared one of the toughest hurdles of the league schedule Friday with a 25-23, 25-21, 26-24 victory at Wichita State.
Sweeps have been rare lately between the Bears (10-3, 3-0 MVC) and Shockers (8-5, 2-1) as 11 of the last 20 meetings have gone five sets and only two of the last 13 match-ups ended in three sets prior to Friday's match. The 3-0 win was Missouri State's first sweep of WSU since the 2005 MVC Tournament championship match, though the Bears do own several wins over the Shockers since then that required more than three sets.
Christine McCartney and Olivia Brand shared match-high honors with 11 kills apiece, many coming in critical situations, and perhaps none more so than McCartney's two that tied the third set at 23-23 and 24-24.
McCartney followed those two kills with her first ace of the season to cap a personal 3-0 run and earn Missouri State a match point opportunity that Karen Rivatto cashed in with the clinching kill. The Shockers seized all the momentum before that with a 3-0 run to erase MSU's 22-20 lead, but five service errors in the period proved too much to overcome for the home team despite 16 kills on .342 hitting. The Bears led by as many as four points at 18-14 in the third set before hanging on to win.
The match was tied at each of the first six points before the Bears became the first team to scratch as much as a two-point lead at 8-6 in the first set. MSU built the lead to 10-7 before a 6-0 WSU run put the Shockers ahead 15-12, and a 4-0 Missouri State run capped by an Anna Burgess ace regained a 16-15 lead for the Bears. After three more ties, Carly Thomas recorded two kills around a WSU attack error to put the Bears ahead 22-19. The Shockers closed to within a point three times before Brand's fourth kill secured the two-point win.
Missouri State quickly doubled-up the Shockers 10-5 in the second set and seemed en route to an easy win after going ahead 15-9. WSU closed to 17-14 when McCartney answered with kills that gave the Bears leads of 18-14 and 20-15 and Brand's fifth kill of the set provided MSU's largest lead yet at 22-15. A Thomas kill was the only thing that broke up WSU's 6-1 run as the home team closed to 23-21 before the Bears regrouped and tallied the final two points to hold on for a 2-0 lead at intermission.
The Bears had nine more kills than the Shockers and were efficient at the service line with five aces and two errors compared to two aces and eight errors for Wichita State. Missouri State had 17 more digs than Wichita State as well and hit .198 versus .224 for WSU. Thomas matched a career high with seven kills while hitting .462 with a team-high 15 digs and 37 assists.
Missouri State continues its four-match road swing Sunday at 2 p.m. with a non-conference contest at Stephen F. Austin.