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RH: “It becomes the best lasagna we can”

Volleyball | 01/31/2023 10:13:00

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By Paul Suellentrop Wichita State volleyball coach Chris Lamb loves lasagna and demands that it be served in a particular way. He delivered this team-building lesson at the start of spring training, giving his semi-annual additions a look at his own style and coaching stories. There are six new Shockers this spring for Lamb to mix with a good bunch of comebacks. Setter Izzi Strand, center Maddie Wilson, outside hitter Megan Reilly, libero Gabi Maas, forward Brooklyn Leggett and outside hitter Barbara Koehler are additions Lamb expects to bolster the level of competition and depth in his gym. “He has high expectations for his lasagna, because his mother makes really good lasagna,” said Leggett, a transfer from NCAA Division II Colorado Mesa University. “He has very high expectations for all of us.” Here’s how Lamb connects lasagna to his activity at his gym. “He knows we’re really good, but he doesn’t know how well we’ll compete on the court, or how well we’ll play together,” said Strand, who transferred from UC San Diego. “He was looking to see how we’re going to work together to make the best lasagna possible.” Wichita State is adding new faces to an already strong roster. The Shockers went 18-13 last season, 13-6 in the American Athletic Conference, with one appearance in the NIVC. Returners include Natalie Foster, AVCA All-Region North center, Brylee Kelly, left all-conference, Kayce Litzau, setter and Sophia Rohling, second team, all-conference. The additions, Lamb expects, will make his squad deeper and more versatile in every position. “We have something for everyone,” she said. “The gym is better than it was in the fall. We’ve added more pieces and everyone here can play.” Increasing Wichita State’s scoring options was one of Lamb’s primary goals. The Shockers ranked fourth in the All-American in kills (12.57 a set) and offense percentage (. 243) and third in blocks (2.32) in conference play. It wasn’t enough to keep up with co-champions UCF and Houston or third-place SMU. The Shockers finished fourth in the AAC and went 1–5 against that group with a late season home win at SMU. Wichita State, according to Lamb, topped its scoring stats with organization, teamwork, and hustle and bustle. To make a leap up the standings, the Shockers need to put the ball on the ground more often. “We couldn’t find enough points earned to keep pace with the better teams,” said Lamb. “Score. You’re working hard to really improve it.” The newcomers give Lamb the opportunity to mix lineups, experiment and put more goalscorers in more positions. Koehler earned NJCAA Division I Player of the Year honors and won a national title at Florida SouthWestern State College. He averaged 3.7 kills and hit .324. Reilly is a transfer from Arizona State after redshirting. Wilson hit .235 for Idaho with 140 kills. In the first few weeks of practice, newcomers are learning how Lamb trains. Kelly, Leggett said, is helping her adjust with regular checkups and advice. One training session featured a drill in which defenders dug in and passed, then chased small rubber balls, to work on agility. A drill designed to consolidate the passing technique meant using a cane as an arm brace. “It was a lot of stuff I’ve never done before,” Leggett said. “We put sticks in our armpits, and held the stick, and we were walking by. I’d never heard of anyone doing that before. He was teaching me things I didn’t think he was going to teach me.” Strand is impressed by the competition in workouts. “I love the skill level of the game and the practice,” he said. “Everyone is guided, not by points, not by the game, but by themselves. I feel that he will be out on the pitch in the fall.” The variety of exercises and atmosphere in the gym also helps. “We have a 40-minute session and you work the whole time,” Strand said. “(Lamb) is very creative, which is fun for me. I want to be surprised. Volleyball is very random, so it’s fun when we do random things that are very game-like.” They also learned the proper way to serve lasagna. Always on a plate. Never in a bowl, the need for which indicates that the meat and pasta are liquid. “Flat – I can’t believe anyone would want it otherwise,” Lamb said. “Bring it in a bowl and it’s all soupy. No.” Paul Suellentrop writes about Wichita State Athletics for University Strategic Communications. Story hint? Contact him at [email protected].

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