RH: Morgan Stout struggles to catch up after setbacks

The Round House | 09/24/2021 06:32:00

Wichita State Volleyball Coach Chris Lamb Free Morgan stout a scholarship. Stout, although delighted, hesitated.

“His exact words were ‘How would you feel if I put a full scholarship on the table now?’” Said Stout. “I was like ‘Well, I wouldn’t think I was good enough.'”

Lamb politely disapproved and told her the Shockers wanted her in the uniform.

Stout, after a day or two of reflection, accepted the scholarship in his sophomore year at Nickerson High School. The athlete Lamb saw back then – bouncy, competitive, agile – is now in the early stages of helping the Shockers. As she learns college volleyball, her talent allows her to contribute.

“Athletically I’m doing pretty well,” she said. “Mentally, sometimes it’s hard to be frustrated. There are times in practice where I’m very frustrated with myself, because I know I can do better.”

Wichita State (6-3) opens the American Athletic Conference game this weekend with two games at the Fertitta Center in Houston. The Shockers face Tulane (7-5) at 2 p.m. Friday. Sunday (1 p.m.), they face Houston (10-2).

Stout, a first year middle blocker in a red shirt, deserves a lot of patience on her way to this season. She was absent last season with a foot injury, after COVID-19 limited her training time for much of 2020. She returned to volleyball in August, nine months after the operation.

Two months later, the Shockers need her.

She played a reserve role in the Wichita State season opener. Last weekend, with the middle Lauren McMahon outside she started in the Shocker Volleyball Classic. Against South Dakota, she contributed five kills and tied for the team lead with four blocks. She led the Shockers with six blocks against Wyoming and added eight kills with a .238 attack percentage.

“It’s crazy – she’s just a weird athlete”, passer Kayce litzau noted. “She had a block that she just hung in the air for, I mean, 10 seconds. She can fly.”

The routes, timing and strategies of the game are a work in progress for Stout. She hits effectively on the slides behind the passer. The chemistry of working quick sets in front of the passer is more elusive. She reconstructs the movement of her arms after months of inactivity. Her vertical jump, she estimates, is 27 inches, about two inches below her peak before injury.

These physical gifts often shine in the workout gym and his teammates love the future possibilities.

“You haven’t even seen the best of Morgan stoutoutside batter brylee kelly noted. “She’s so raw. Another year under her belt – or maybe even next week – you never know – she’s going to be unstoppable.”

Stout survived a tough 2020-21 as she re-educated and watched.

“My first year was not what I expected so it really made me want to work even harder to get to where I needed to be,” she said. “The fact that I did, finally, and look back, it’s hard to see. But I’m very proud of where I am now.”

Lamb’s job is to elevate Stout’s understanding of play closer to his physical gifts. Experience and repetitions will help. His competitive nature and his enthusiasm will be too. She lives with the belief that training should be more difficult than a game, a lesson learned by accompanying her father to morning basketball practices in high school where he coached.

In this environment, she has become an athlete who wants to win every exercise and every point.

“Intrepid,” Lamb said. “I want people who strive. You always get that from Morgan, physically. If anything, you try to make her slow things down a bit so she can try to recognize certain things. It will come.”

As Stout learns, she wants his enthusiasm to serve as a consistent contribution. After a kill or a block, she celebrates with a flurry of punches and screams.

“I knew it was a gift I had – enthusiasm,” she said. “Being on the pitch and being able to help my team emotionally is really, really good for me. Everyone contributes in their own way, and it’s my little way.”

Paul Suellentrop covers Wichita State Athletics and the American Athletic Conference for University Strategic Communications. History suggestion? Contact him at [email protected]

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