All-tourney choice Ladd leads Wright State to NCAA

J. Patrick Eaken

The Wright State volleyball team is heading back to the NCAA Division I championship for the second straight season after the top-seeded Raiders won the final two sets and defeated No. 2 seed University of Illinois-Chicago 3-2 to claim the program’s first Horizon League tournament title.

Mallory Ladd (Clay), a 5-foot-6 defensive specialist and outside hitter, was named to the all-tournament team, joining her roommate, Celia Powers and teammate Nyssa Baker, who was named tournament MVP. Additionally, third-year head coach Allie Matters was named the HL’s Co-Coach of the Year,

“It was really nice because it was my roommate and me. We were all seniors, so that felt good, and the MVP was Nyssa, our middle blocker, and she is amazing,” Ladd said. “I think our whole team played really well that whole tournament, but especially I feel like in the hard moments we pulled through some really good points. It was nice to get recognized.”

In the championship, Ladd finished with 15 kills to pace the Raider offensive attack while Powers tallied nine of her own. For the season, Ladd had 88 kills on offense (2.2 per set).

Wright State (16-1) will take on Samford in the opening round of the NCAA volleyball championships in Omaha, Nebraska. The Raiders will take on the Bulldogs on April 14 at 7 p.m. in first round action, with the match being televised on ESPN3. The Wright State-Samford winner advances to take on the No. 4 overall seed Texas in the second round on April 15.

This will be Wright State’s second straight NCAA volleyball championship appearance after the Raiders earned an at-large bid into the 2019 tournament. That selection was the first at-large bid to an NCAA championship in Wright State athletics history, with the Raiders ultimately falling to Purdue in the opening round.

Wright State played just three five set matches this spring and only had six matches that went more than three sets on the way to running through Horizon League play undefeated. In the championship, Wright State dropped the first and third sets while taking sets two, four and five.

“It was definitely an exciting match against UIC,” Ladd said. “We obviously went up and down set for set, so that was definitely our most challenging game of the season. I think there were a lot of highs and lows in that game but coming out on top, we just really worked hard and got focused in the fifth set.”

After winning the league tournament, it was business as usual last week.

“We are just getting in the gym, working hard every day. We had a couple days off just to get ourselves right again, so now we are just going into the gym every day. Our minds are fully focused on that and we are just ready to get to Omaha and hopefully get a win.”

Ladd said the team flew to Omaha on Sunday, but on Monday and Tuesday they get tested for COVID and will have to quarantine, hopefully practicing on Tuesday. It has been that kind of a season.

“I think that we are all very dedicated and determined this year. It’s been obviously crazy for everyone and volleyball has been the only thing that we have been doing, so we’ve been working hard in the gym and communicating well in games. Everything is working right for us because of all the hard work we’ve put in,” Ladd said.

“We are all very excited because of everything we’ve sacrificed, like not being with our family or any friends or anyone. It actually feels good because we got something out of it. It’s exciting that we can actually go to Omaha despite everything that happened with COVID and everything. I think we are all ready to be there and work hard. Since we are playing Samford, they are obviously a good team, but they are a beatable team in our opinion.”

In 2018, Ladd tallied 153 total kills (1.96 per set), 70 digs and 25 blocks. She had a season high 17 kills at IUPUI, a season-best five blocks versus Northern Kentucky and a season-high six digs at Oakland. In 2019, she appeared in seven matches and tallied 19 kills (1.36) and had a season-high six kills at IUPUI.

At Clay, Ladd lettered all four years, recording 318 kills and 266 digs as a senior as she received first team All-Three Rivers Athletic Conference and all-district honors. She had 332 kills and 303 digs as a junior as she again was first team All-TRAC and all-district and she was honorable mention All-TRAC as a sophomore. She was also a two-year team captain. She says she came from humble beginnings to be where she is now.

“Obviously, Oregon is a small town, so just getting there (NCAA) to begin with is very good,” Ladd said.

(— includes material from WSU SID press releases)





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