K-State Fights Off TCU in Four Sets




16-6 (6-4 Big 12)

14-8 (6-4 Big 12)

Ashleigh Martin: 14 kills, .312%, 3 blocks
Regan McGuire: 8 kills, 8 blocks, 1 ace
Sarita Mikals: 9 kills, .391%, 13 digs, 4 blocks

Brooke Sassin: 15 kills, 11 digs, 1 ace
Katie Brand: 48 assists, 13 digs, 6 blocks, 5 kills, 3 aces
Kersten Kober: 25 digs

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
TCU 23 17 25 22 --
K-State 25 25 21 25 --

MANHATTAN, Kan. – With the help of four Wildcats reaching double-digits in kills and a defense that had 82 digs and nine blocks, K-State took down TCU in four sets (25-23, 25-17, 21-25, 25-22) on Saturday in Ahearn Field House.

K-State (14-8, 6-4 Big 12) captured its fifth win over its last six matches, and sixth in seven home matches this season, by holding TCU (16-6, 6-4 Big 12) to a .202 attack percentage. The Horned Frogs were coming off a three-set win against No. 2 Texas on Wednesday, a match in which TCU hit .306.

“We played exceptionally well and exceptionally hard,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “There were spontaneous plays – it was like ping-pong – and we adjusted well to a majority of them. We got our hands on a ton of balls as well.”

Kersten Kober led all Wildcats with 25 digs, her ninth career match with 20 or more (tied for seventh in school history). The junior libero was joined by four other Wildcats with double-digit digs: Bryna Vogel (17), Katie Brand (13), Brooke Sassin (11) and Devan Fairfield (career-high 10).

Despite being out-blocked 14-9, K-State still used its stuffs at key moments to hold back TCU, including back-to-back blocks in the first set win that helped erase a 23-21 deficit. Brand led all Wildcat blockers with six, which matched her season-high, while middle blockers Macy Flowers and Katie Reininger had five and four, respectively.

The Wildcat offense was also out-hit by TCU, .202 to .180, but K-State turned in more kills than the Horned Frogs, 60-51. Sassin paced the team with 15, and freshman Alyssa Schultejans had 13, her most in a Big 12 match. Fellow freshman Flowers added 10 kills as well, her third career effort with 10 or more in a match.

Vogel brought the number of K-State attackers with double-digit kills to four as the sophomore had 12, her most in a match since the first meeting of the season against TCU on October 3 when she had 13. The outside hitter’s kills also helped her notch her ninth double-double of the season.

Brand and Sassin turned in double-doubles as well, with Brand’s 48 assists pairing up with her 13 digs for her Big 12-best 14th double-double of the year. Sassin recorded her second straight double-double and 11th of the season.

The two sides combined for 346 attacks, including 183 by K-State – its most in a four-set match since October 2013. The Wildcat defense, meanwhile, had its most digs in four-set match since September 2013.

TCU hit .400 in the back-and-forth opening set, helping it take a 23-21 lead, but after consecutive blocks by K-State, its only two of the set, evened the score at 23-all, the Horned Frogs were forced to call a timeout. The attempt to stall the Wildcats’ momentum failed as Schultejans put back a kill to bring K-State to set point, which was turned in on an ace by Vogel, one of five aces by the Wildcats in the match.

The first part of the second set was close as well, but with the score at 11-10 K-State, a kill by Vogel – one of her four in the second – sparked a 5-1 run that helped the Wildcats open a four-point lead, 16-12. The Horned Frogs could only close it within two thereafter as with the score 18-16 K-State, the Wildcats went on to tally seven of the final eight points to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Brand stood at the service line for nearly all of the late 7-1 run as she used two of her three aces to help keep TCU out of system.

Both sides hit under .200 in the third, but K-State was able to stake itself a three-point lead at the 15-12 mark after one of TCU’s six attack errors in the set. The Horned Frogs slowly whittled away the K-State advantage, though, until a Wildcat blocking error tied it at 20-20 and allowed TCU to score six of the final seven points. 

While the third set featured 11 ties and four lead changes, the fourth set saw K-State hold the advantage the entire way as the quartet of K-State attackers – Flowers, Sassin, Schultejans, and Vogel – all contributed kills in the first part of the fourth to help the Wildcats take an 11-3 lead. TCU did close the gap to two on three different occasions, including after Flowers brought it to match point, 24-21, with her fourth kill in the set. Natalie Gower of the Horned Frogs made it 24-22 with a kill, but Sassin quickly ended with it her 15th kill, her most since the last meeting against TCU when she had 18.

K-State, which hit .107 in the fourth set due to five of its 10 attack errors caused by TCU blocks, was able to win its first match hitting under .200 for the first time since October 4, 2014 when the Wildcats swept Texas Tech in Lubbock.

The Wildcats, who moved into a tie with TCU for fourth place in the Big 12 standings, have a midweek bye before hosting the Red Raiders on Saturday, November 7 in Ahearn Field House at 7 p.m.

K-State improved to 43-6 against unranked opponents at home since 2011.

The Wildcats lead the all-time series against TCU, 6-2. K-State is a 4-0 against the Horned Frogs in Manhattan.

Sassin’s 11 double-doubles this year are the most by a K-State outside hitter since Rita Liliom had 11 in 2008.