K-State Slows No. 15 Jayhawks, but Loses in Four




8-5 (0-1 Big 12)

13-0 (1-0 Big 12)

Brooke Sassin: 15 kills, 7 digs, 3 blocks
Alyssa Schultejans: 12 kills, .286%, 6 digs
Zsofia Gyimes: 6 kills, .500%, 5 blocks, 2 aces

Kelsie Payne: 20 kills, .333%, 5 blocks
Madison Rigdon: 14 kills, 10 digs
Ainise Havili: 54 assists, 13 digs, 2 kills

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
K-State 23 25 22 21 --
#15 KU 25 19 25 25 --

LAWRENCE, Kan. – K-State held No. 15 KU’s offense to its second-lowest hitting percentage of the season, but the Wildcats were unable to build upon a second-set win and lost, 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21), on Wednesday in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

The Wildcats (8-5, 0-1 Big 12) dropped their fourth straight match, and fourth consecutive Big 12 opener, despite holding the Jayhawks (13-0, 1-0 Big 12), who entered the match hitting a conference-best .331, to their lowest hitting efficiency over the last five contests (.220).

The Wildcats also out-blocked the Jayhawks, 9.0-7.0, but KU used 38 kills over the final two sets, after a combined 25 in the first two, to close out the victory.

“I was pleased with our defensive effort, but we felt like we had to be the better transition team, and I do not think we accomplished that goal,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “We knew that [KU was] very terminal in regards to their side-out offense. We needed to extend out long rallies, which I feel like we did, but then we have to win long rallies. I didn’t think we were clean enough in the long points. Those are big momentum plays, and I don’t think we won enough of them.”

Junior Brooke Sassin led the Wildcat offense with 15 kills, 10 of which were recorded over the first two sets, on 64 swings. In the final two sets, the outside hitter had 40 attacks, with five kills.

Freshman Alyssa Schultejans also reached double-digits in kills, totaling 12 on a .286 clip (4 errors, 28 attempts) in her first career Big 12 match.

Junior Kersten Kober had 25 digs, a Big 12 career-high, to lead the Wildcats. It was her seventh career 20-dig match, which are the seventh-most in program history.

Redshirt junior Katie Brand turned in her ninth double-double of the campaign with 42 assists and 11 digs. The setter is now tied with Sassin for the Big 12-lead in double-doubles. She also had four kills, two blocks and an ace.

After hitting a match-high .273 in the second, the Wildcats turned in hitting percentages of .238 and .102 in the third and fourth sets, respectively. K-State required 59 swings in the fourth, dropping in only 12 kills. KU, meanwhile, hit .235 and .241 in the final two sets.

“Offensive productivity would be the first thing that stands out,” said Fritz about the difference in the match. “We still have some offensive work to do in regards to offensive balance, offensive rhythm.”

With the score at 15-all in the first, K-State came out of its final timeout tallying three of the next four points on kills by Zsofia Gyimes and Schultejans as well as one of Gyimes’ two aces in the match. KU, however, pulled back in front with four straight points, as part of a 6-1 run, to make it 22-19 Jayhawks. K-State went on to force KU to call a late timeout at 23-22 following Sassin recording a kill and pairing up with Gyimes for a block. After Brand slyly dumped in a kill on KU’s first set point, the Jayhawks closed out the set with a kill by Tayler Soucie.

Bryna Vogel sliced in her first kill of the night to break a 9-all tie in the second, igniting a 6-1 run for the Wildcats that opened their biggest lead of the match at that point. Over the burst, five different Wildcats had a kill while a solo block by Reininger, the Wildcats’ fourth of the match, made it 15-10 at the media timeout.

KU, though, was able to pull within two on a few occasions and as late as 19-17 when a Gyimes serve was long. The service error, however, was one of three in a row by both sides, with the last one by KU giving K-State a 20-17 advantage.

K-State held KU to a .118 hitting percentage in the second set, the lowest clip by the Jayhawks in a set this season. Through the first two sets, KU was hitting .191.

The third set featured 15 of the match’s 37 ties while the lead changed hands six times. Neither side led by two points through the majority of the set, with K-State holding a lead at 21-20 after a kill by Schultejans. Back-to-back kills by KU flipped the score back in favor of the Jayhawks, 22-21, and forced the Wildcats to call their final timeout. Out of the break, Sassin hit into one of her three attack errors in the set to give KU a 23-21 lead while Kelsie Payne, who finished with a match-high 20 kills, scored two of the final three points with two of her six kills in the set.

In the fourth, a Payne attack error gave the Wildcats a 12-9 advantage, but the KU outside hitter used three straight kills to spark an 11-2 run by the Jayhawks. Gyimes had one of her six kills to help the Wildcats side out of the burst, as K-State eventually pulled within three at 23-20 after a kill by Brand. KU called its only timeout to halt the Wildcats’ momentum, with the strategy working as a pair of Jayhawk kills sandwiched Schultejans’ final kill to finish out the match.

K-State returns to action with its first home Big 12 match of the season on Saturday against Baylor in Ahearn Field House. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

Sassin has led or tied for the team lead in kills in nine of the Wildcats’ 13 matches this season. She has 10 or more kills in all 13 contests as well.

Kober’s two highest career dig totals in Big 12 matches have been recorded against KU. Last season, the libero had 24 digs in K-State’s 3-2 win in Lawrence.

K-State has lost five straight matches to ranked opponents, with two of those defeats coming over its last four contests (No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 15 KU). The Wildcats are 0-4 all-time against the Jayhawks when they are ranked.

Bryna Vogel had 20 digs, her second 20-dig match of the season. The outside hitter had 23 on August 29 vs. Illinois State.