Wichita, Kan. — Wichita State trailed two sets to one and 11-5 in the fourth, but battled all the way back to defeat Memphis 21-25, 28-26, 25-27, 25-19, 15-6 on Friday night at Charles Koch Arena.
The Tigers (12-6, 2-3) looked well on their way to wrapping up the match after grabbing a significant edge in early in the fourth set. Trailing 10-4, the Shockers (8-7, 3-1) took a timeout that immediately sparked a set-changing rally. Wichita State claimed five of the next six points to pull within 11-9, then gradually scraped ahead after a Gigi Crescenzo attack error put the Shockers in front 15-14. The Tigers hung around, pulling back within two at 20-18, but two big kills down the stretch from Brylee Kelly and a clinching putdown from Lauren McMahon kept Wichita State alive.
In the fifth, the Shockers strung together their best volleyball of the night, opening up a quick 10-4 lead that forced two Memphis timeouts. The catalyst was freshman Emerson Wilford, who led all scorers with four kills in the set to keep Memphis at arm’s length. Natalie Foster secured the win with her 12th kill of the night, helping the Shockers complete the comeback.
Memphis gradually inched ahead in a tight first set that was tied at 19-all late in the frame. Four different Tigers had at least three kills in the set, led by Miaya Smith’s four. Two crucial Shocker attack errors gave Memphis the lead at 22-19, and Kate Bass eventually produced the winner to put the Tigers in front.
The Shockers appeared to have a relatively comfortable second set well in hand, leading 23-16 following a Memphis hitting miscue. But the Tigers fired off seven straight points to pull even at 23-23, then fended off three set points before a service error and a Kelly kill finally evened the match at one set apiece.
Wichita State also had a sizable late lead in the third set, holding a 23-19 advantage before the Tigers rallied. Kelly brought WSU to set point with another kill, but Memphis scored three of the next four points to claim the stanza and set the stage for the Shocker heroics.
Kelly led all scorers with 20 kills on a .264 hitting percentage, while Wilford set a new career high with eight kills on 24 attacks. Morgan Weber matched her career high with 23 digs, and setter Kayce Litzau stuffed the stat sheet with a season-best 50 assists, 12 digs, five kills and two blocks. The Shockers hit .216 as a team, holding Memphis to a .131 clip.
Wichita State is back in action on Sunday afternoon, taking on the SMU Mustangs. First serve from Charles Koch Arena is scheduled for 1:00 PM.