K-State Falls at TCU after Erasing Two-Set Deficit




9-6 (1-2 Big 12)

12-4 (2-2 Big 12)

Brooke Sassin: 18 kills, 9 digs, 3 blocks, 1 ace
Kersten Kober: 37 digs, 2 assists
Katie Brand: 57 assists, 12 digs, 6 kills

Ashley Smith: 23 kills, .389%, 11 digs, 5 blocks
Jillian Bergeson: 12 kills, 16 digs, 2 blocks
Natalie Gower: 9 kills, 6 blocks

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
K-State 23 19 25 25 9
TCU 25 25 21 17 15

FORT WORTH, Texas – K-State erased a two-set deficit on Saturday at TCU, but the Horned Frogs hit .368 in the fifth to stave off the comeback attempt as the Wildcats fell, 3-2 (25-23, 25-19, 21-25, 17-25, 15-9), at the University Recreational Center.

It was the fifth time the Wildcats (9-6, 1-2 Big 12) played a five-set match this year and first time since November 2014 that they forced a fifth set after dropping the first two. However, starting with last year’s November match against West Virginia, K-State has lost five of its last six five-set matches (1-4 this season).

While four Wildcats had double-digit kills and six had at least half-a-dozen, junior Kersten Kober helped the K-State defense limit TCU (12-4, 2-2 Big 12) to a .217 clip in the match with a career-high 37 digs – four shy of matching the school record. The libero had 11 digs in the third and 10 in the fourth, as TCU turned in its lowest hitting percentages in a set during the night (.120 in the third, .103 in the fourth). 

Kober’s 37 digs, surpassing her previous personal-best of 31, were also the most by a Wildcat in a road contest since 1987 when Mary Kinsey had 40 at Drake.

Junior Brooke Sassin paced the Wildcats with 18 kills, her most in a match since she had 22 in five sets on September 19 vs. Arkansas. The outside hitter also added nine digs, three blocks, three assists and an ace.

Sophomore Bryna Vogel (13 kills, .333 hitting percentage), redshirt junior Katie Reininger (11) and freshman Macy Flowers (11) joined Sassin in the quartet of Wildcats with 10 or more kills. Flowers, in her K-State debut, hit .360 (2 errors, 25 attempts) while also matching Sassin for the team-lead with three blocks.

Vogel, who had 13 digs, and redshirt junior Katie Brand (57 assists, 12 digs) each tallied a double-double. For Brand, it was her Big 12-leading 10th of the season while for Vogel, it was her seventh.

The first set featured highly-efficient offenses as both sides hit well over .300 and combined for 35 kills. The Wildcats, who had six different players with at least two kills in the set, were down late by as much as three at the 23-20 mark, but back-to-back kills by Sassin pulled K-State within one. TCU brought it to set point by siding out on a Blaire Pickens kill, which was subsequently followed by a Jillian Bergeson attack that was long that pulled the Wildcats within one. The Horned Frogs were able to later capture the set on a kill by Bergeson.

K-State had just four attack errors in the first, hitting .394, while TCU had five against its .382 clip. The Wildcats’ attack percentage was fueled by their middle blockers Flowers and Reininger, who combined to go 7-for-8 in swings.

In the second, K-State’s defense came alive early as it forced TCU to hit into four errors on the first 14 attempts and allowed the Wildcats to open an 8-5 advantage. However, as K-State led 12-10, kills by Ashley Smith, who had a match-high 23, and Pickens sandwiched Flowers’ first attack error of the evening to flip the favor towards TCU, 13-12.

K-State answered by opening up a 16-14 advantage with the help of three TCU errors. K-State went on to lead as late as 17-16, but the Horned Frogs scored nine of the final 11 points in the set to take a 2-0 lead in the match. TCU was able to tally the nine points on five kills, three K-State attack errors and a block.

The Wildcats were up 13-10 in the third, but four straight points by TCU, including three off K-State attack errors – one of which was on a block – put the Horned Frogs ahead, 14-13. The Wildcats quickly called a timeout to blunt the TCU momentum, and Flowers helped them respond with her sixth kill of the match that also sparked a 5-1 run. Over the burst, Flowers turned in three kills while Sassin sliced in the first K-State ace.

K-State overcame eight attack errors and a .188 hitting percentage in the third by turning in 18 kills to TCU’s 11. Sassin had six of the Wildcats’ 18 kills while 29 digs by the K-State defense contained TCU on its 50 swings.

The Wildcats leapt out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth with the help of five kills and two TCU attack errors (-.222 hitting percentage). The Horned Frogs, though, were able to tie it at 12-12 and 13-13, but a kill by Reininger sparked a run of seven straight points for the Wildcats to give them their largest lead of the match, 20-13. Over the burst, Kober was effective at the service line with short serves that kept the TCU offense, which had 11 kills and seven attack errors in the set, out of sync.

The fifth was controlled by TCU from the outset as the Wildcats were forced to burn their first timeout when they trailed at the 4-1 mark. K-State was able to trim the deficit to two points at 9-7, but TCU closed out the match scoring six of the final eight points.

The Wildcats, who are 5-6 in road/neutral contests this season, stay in competition away from home as they will next head to Ames, Iowa to face Iowa State on October 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Kober has five matches with 20 or more digs this season and eight in her career, which are the eighth-most in program history. Kober is averaging 6.42 digs/set in conference matches this season.

K-State is 5-2 all-time against TCU. Saturday’s match was just the second match of the series to go longer than three sets (Other: October 5, 2013 – K-State won, 3-2).

Vogel and Brand’s double-doubles on Saturday give the Wildcats 27 as a team this season. Last year, K-State had 27 double-doubles over the entire campaign.