WSU Volleyball | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian
After winning the Horizon League Championship against UIC 3-0, Wright State University (WSU) Volleyball headed to the NCAA Tournament for their first-round match against Samford.
WSU shocked the tournament and Samford with a dominant 3-0 sweep, moving on to face Texas the next day. The Longhorns got the better of the Raiders in their matchup, ending their season in the second round.
While the season is over, this year was the program’s first Horizon League Championship and the Horizon League’s first win in the NCAA.
Smashing serves and balancing offense
Head coach Allie Matters and assistant Dan O’Keefe did their homework for Samford, as the Bulldogs’ star player Lauren Deaton had nine kills, but needed 37 total attempts to do it.
“We scouted really well,” Matters said. “We were able to go after the hitter we knew they would be giving the majority of their sets to.”
WSU totaled 14 service aces in their sweep over Samford, with the Bulldogs only able to manage three. Callie Martin led the Raiders with five aces, as Teddie Sauer with Lainey Stephenson had four and three respectively.
Aces at the beginning of sets helped the Raiders jump on the Bulldogs early every set, as three of Martin’s aces at the start of set two gave WSU a 9-0 lead, and four quick aces in the final set gave WSU a 9-2 lead.
“We did really well behind the service line,” Matters said. “It made a big difference for us. We were able to get 14 aces, which we’re not really used to doing in our own league.”
Where Samford relied only on Deaton to give them an edge, WSU’s usage of all their hitters made them much more of an offensive threat.
Celia Powers, Megan Alders, and Nyssa Baker all totaled eight or more kills for WSU, and none of them reached 20 attempts to Deaton’s almost 40.
“The passing was on, and our connections were just on point tonight,” Alders said.
On getting the Horizon League’s first NCAA win, Matters said that the team only focuses on themselves.
“We try not to make it about anyone but us. We’re really proud to do something like that for the Horizon League… but everything has kind of happened by accident. We just do what we do, and the accolades come,” Matters said.
Blocked by the Longhorns
While the Raiders fought hard against Texas, the height difference and blocking at the net gave the Longhorns the edge over the Raiders.
Texas totaled 15 blocks to WSU’s two, turning their own ideas of shutting down their opponent’s offense against them.
“In the end, it just came down to a physicality thing. Getting past their block was tough,” Matters said.
They backed up that blocking with excellent offense, as Logan Eggleston led the game in kills with 11.
While Texas beat WSU 3-0 in sets, it was a much closer match than the score seemed to say.
“The score doesn’t represent how it felt out there,” Mallory Ladd said. “I feel like we played better than what the scores represent.”
This historic season for the Raiders with a Horizon League Championship and an NCAA win will only further the team’s confidence heading into next season.