Shockers Tame Sugar Bears in NIVC Opener, 3-2

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Tabitha Brown and Megan Taflinger combined for 44 kills to help the Wichita State University volleyball team defeat Central Arkansas, 3-2, in the opening round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) Thursday, Nov. 29, inside the North Texas Volleyball Center. The set scores were 20-25, 25-18, 25-13, 23-25 and 15-11.
 
Wichita State (14-17) advances to the second round of the NIVC with the victory and will face host North Texas (18-16) Friday, Nov. 30, at 5:30 p.m. in Denton.
 
Brown and Taflinger each had 22 kills in the match and hit .487 and .364, while Kora Kauling compiled a double-double with 50 assists and 10 digs. Emma Wright added a career-high seven blocks, and Giorgia Civita posted a match-best 19 digs.
 
Wright, Brown, and Regan Stiawalt each tallied two services aces, respectively.
 
After the Sugar Bears (26-7) jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a 25-20 victory in the opening set, the Shockers stormed back in set two, scoring eight of the first nine points to burst out to an 8-1 advantage. Wichita State benefitted from three UCA attacking errors during its opening spurt, and got kills from both Brown and Taflinger, and a pair of block assists from Wright and Stiawalt, before back-to-back aces from Brown scored WSU’s seventh and eighth points of the set.
 
Central Arkansas was able to trim the lead to 14-13 with a 7-1 run, but back-to-back kills from Brown, a pair of Sugar Bear attacking errors, another block assist from Wright and Stiawalt, and a Stiawalt kill allowed Wichita State to take control of the match at 20-13 and eventually go on to the 25-18 triumph, tying the match, 1-1.
 
The Shockers fell behind 1-0 in the third set before putting the pedal to the metal offensively, scoring 17 of the next 22 points to race out to a 16-6 lead after back-to-back kills from Taflinger. Wichita State went on to coast to a 25-13 victory, gaining a 2-1 lead in the match.
 
Central Arkansas didn’t go away though, and claimed set four, 25-23, after scoring four of the final six points in the frame to knot the match, 2-2, and force a decisive fifth set.
 
WSU led 6-5 in set five before going on a 4-0 spurt to increase its lead to 10-5 after a Taflinger kill and three straight attacking errors from UCA. The Sugar Bears could get no closer than three the remainder of the set, securing the win for the Shockers.
 
For the match, Wichita State outhit Central Arkansas, .300 to .171, and posted 66 kills, 65 assists, seven service aces, 56 digs and eight blocks.
 
Samantha Anderson tallied 18 kills, pacing the Sugar Bears.

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