K-State Fires Offensively in 3 of 4 Sets; Beats VCU, 3-1




6-1 (0-0 BIG 12)

2-6 (0-0 A10)

Brooke Sassin: 19 kills, 12 digs, 3 blocks, 2 aces
Zsofia Gyimes: 9 kills, .462%, 4 blocks, 1 ace
Katie Brand: 44 assists, 9 digs, 2 blocks, 1 ace

Kalah Jones: 17 kills, 11 digs, 1 ace
Jessica Young: 10 kills, 7 digs, 2 blocks
Jane Feddersen: 8 kills, .444%, 4 blocks

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
K-State 25 19 25 25 --
VCU 17 25 10 18 --

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – K-State bounced back from a second-set loss by hitting a combined .429 over the final two sets to beat VCU, 3-1 (25-17, 19-25, 25-10, 25-18), in the Alumni Memorial Gym on Friday to open the Middle Tennessee Invitational. 

K-State (6-1) out-paced VCU (2-6) in every major statistical category, from 61-47 in kills, 57-43 in digs and 9.0-7.0 in blocks, but an error-filled second set by the Wildcats forced the match to go four after K-State out-hit the Rams, .393-.276, in the first.

“We were uncharacteristically high-error in the second,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “We got caught up in the emotion – in my philosophy, high-emotional teams tend to be high-error teams, and that is exactly what we were. VCU plays with a tremendous amount of emotion to begin with, and we didn’t manage that very well.”

The Wildcats were able to flip the switch out of the break after being led by junior Brooke Sassin, who had 12 of her match-high 19 kills over the third and fourth sets. The outside hitter was nearly flawless over the final two, tallying the dozen kills against one error on 22 swings. For the match, she hit .239 while also adding 12 digs to notch her fourth double-double of the season.

“Sassin was not playing like Sassin is capable of playing,” said Fritz. “Her rhythm was off, and she was uncharacteristically high-error, which we have not seen out of her in quite some time. What I do like was she was able to flip that. She did a great job of turning the corner.”

In total, K-State had an assortment of 13 errors in the second, one more than it had over the first, third and fourth sets combined.

“We found who we were, settled down a little bit,” said Fritz about K-State playing better in the third and fourth. “Hit-it-in, serve-it-in is kind of what we do, and once we were able to stabilize that, we were significantly better.”

Freshman Alyssa Schultejans reached double-figures in kills for the fourth time this season as the outside hitter had 10 kills on a .350 hitting percentage. Half of her kills came in K-State’s first set win, including one that went down for set point.

Three other Wildcats, Katie Reininger, Zsofia Gyimes, and Bryna Vogel, each had nine kills and hit well above .300. Gyimes posted her career-high in kills with a .462 clip while also adding four blocks, three digs and an ace. Reininger extended her streak of seven straight matches with an attack percentage of .333 or higher as the middle blocker turned in a .368 clip. Vogel, meanwhile, was clean on her 12 swings over the final two sets, notching six of her nine kills, as she recorded a .400 hitting percentage for the match to go with her seven digs.

Redshirt junior Katie Brand finished with 44 assists and fell one dig shy of a double-double. Her nine digs were the third-most on the team, trailing Sassin and junior Kersten Kober (12).

Brand also had an ace, one of six by the Wildcats. Sassin and Kober each had a match-high two.

After hitting nearly .400 in the first, the Wildcats were unable to overcome eight attack errors and a .122 hitting percentage in the second. Leading 7-3, K-State succumbed to a 7-1 VCU run that featured two K-State errors and four VCU kills. The Wildcats called the first of their two timeouts down 10-8, but another pair of K-State attack errors made the deficit 12-8 and forced the Wildcats to quickly burn their final timeout. K-State never closed the gap any closer than three points and trailed as much as seven.

K-State, though, never trailed over the third and fourth. In the third, the Wildcats pulled away starting at 11-7 when a Reininger kill, VCU attack error and back-to-back kills from Sassin forced the Rams to call a timeout. The halt in action did little to stop K-State’s momentum as the Wildcats ended the third scoring 14 of the final 17 points. 

In the fourth, the two sides were tied as late as 13-13 following one of K-State’s two service errors in the contest. Kills by Sassin and Vogel quickly broke up the tie, and the Wildcats went on to take a 19-15 lead following a solo block by Reininger on a back row attack and forcing VCU to call a timeout. A pair of kills by Vogel from the right side out of the break allowed K-State to keep the momentum and put away the Rams with a 6-3 run to close out the match.

The Wildcats will play two matches on Saturday, starting with a 10 a.m. contest against Seattle (3-3). Later in the day, K-State faces tournament-host Middle Tennessee at 7:30 p.m.

K-State improved to 51-3 in its last 54 regular season non-conference matches.

Reininger is the first Wildcat with an attack percentage of .333 or higher in seven straight matches since Kelsey Chipman in 2009 (Sept. 1-12, 2009 – 7 straight matches).

Sassin has double-digit kills in each of the first seven matches of the season, a first by a Wildcat since 2009 (JuliAnne Chisholm).