The Wichita Eagle - - Sports - BY TAY­LOR ELDRIDGE [email protected]­chi­taea­gle.com

The Wi­chita State vol­ley­ball team ad­vanced to the se­cond round of the Na­tional In­vi­ta­tional Vol­ley­ball Cham­pi­onship with a five-set vic­tory over Cen­tral Arkansas on Thurs­day in Den­ton, Texas.

WSU (14-17) will be one of 16 teams re­main­ing in the bracket when it takes on ei­ther Tulsa or North Texas in Fri­day’s 5:30 p.m. match.

Tabitha Brown and Me­gan Taflinger led the Shock­ers to vic­tory over Cen­tral Arkansas (20-25, 25-18, 25-13, 23-25, 1511) with 22 kills each and a com­bined .422 hit­ting per­cent­age. Kora Kaul­ing di­rected the of­fense to a .300 hit­ting per­cent­age with 50 sets, Gior­gia Civita added 19 digs and Emma Wright chipped in seven blocks.

It was the first time the Shock­ers’ of­fense had hit at least .300 as a team since hit­ting .314 in a sweep over Tem­ple on Oct. 28.

After drop­ping the first set 25-20, WSU jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the se­cond set be­hind five Cen­tral Arkansas er­rors and two ser­vice aces by Brown. The Shock­ers fin­ished out a 25-18 win in the se­cond set, then de­liv­ered a dom­i­nant third set in a 25-13 vic­tory.

Cen­tral Arkansas forced a fifth-set tiebreaker with a 25-23 fourth-set win, but WSU once again cap­i­tal­ized on UCA mis­takes to gain a 10-5 lead in the fifth set. The match ended on a ser­vice er­ror by Cen­tral Arkansas, which fin­ished the match with nine ser­vice er­rors.

WSU, at 14-17, is faced with its first los­ing sea­son since 2001. The Shock­ers were able to qual­ify for post­sea­son play be­cause of its No. 86 RPI and its top-20 strength of sched­ule.

A fa­mil­iar op­po­nent awaits the Shock­ers re­gard­less of who wins the Thurs­day night­cap. WSU split the sea­son se­ries with Tulsa (19-11) in a pair of five-set matches with each team win­ning on their home court, while the Shock­ers lost to North Texas (1716) in four games at Koch Arena in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale on Nov. 24.

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