K-State Wins Sixth Straight Match, Sweeps Middle Tennessee

GAME RECAP

3

0

RV
K-STATE
WILDCATS
8-1 (0-0 BIG 12)

NR
MIDDLE TENNESSEE
BLUE RAIDERS
1-8 (0-0 C-USA)

LEADERS:
Brooke Sassin: 12 kills, 12 digs, .345%
Bryna Vogel: 7 kills, .385%, 7 digs
Katie Reininger: 9 kills, .350%, 5 blocks

LEADERS:
Chelsea Ross: 14 kills, .179%, 5 digs
Miri Shade: 11 kills, .233%, 8 digs
Makila York: 9 kills, .467%, 2 blocks

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
K-State 25 25 25 -- --
Middle Tennessee 12 22 18 -- --

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Nine straight points to close out a second-set comeback win highlighted K-State’s sixth straight victory as the Wildcats swept Middle Tennessee (25-12, 25-22, 25-18) on Saturday at Alumni Memorial Gym.


K-State (8-1) capped a perfect stint in the Middle Tennessee Invitational by beating the tournament host in straight sets for the second consecutive season. The win improved the Wildcats to 53-3 in their last 56 non-conference regular season matches, a stretch that dates back to 2011.

Since 2014, K-State is also 18-5 in regular season contests away from home, including 5-1 this year.

The Wildcats handled the opening set by committing just one attack error, but in the second, the Blue Raiders (1-8) led by as much as seven and as late as 22-16 before K-State went on its 9-0 run. Brooke Sassin, who had a team-best 12 kills in the match, ignited it all with one of her four kills over the burst, proceeding two unforced Middle Tennessee errors and a pair of K-State blocks that helped bring the score to 22-22, the first tie in the set since 1-1. With no timeouts and Kersten Kober remaining on the service line, Middle Tennessee was unable to halt the momentum as Zsofia Gyimes’ kill and two more from Sassin completed the largest come-from-behind win in a set for the Wildcats this season. 

“Consistency, if I can sum it up in one word,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz about the run to end the second. “We stabilized a little bit. We use the same verbiage over and over, and that is you have to be winning the serving and receiving battle. Our serve was not as effective (early in the set), and (the Blue Raiders) were in system.”

Despite trailing for most of the second, K-State was able to out-hit Middle Tennessee in the set, .267-.195. The Wildcats turned in a .345 hitting percentage for the match, their seventh contest this season in which they hit .293 or higher. For the season, K-State has a .304 clip.

“What I like about this team is they do not panic,” said Fritz. “They stayed in there, played point to point and understood there are some natural ebbs and flows that will occur in the course of the match. You cannot get caught up in them. They managed the emotion of the weekend, and I was really pleased with their patience.”

Sassin earned tournament MVP honors with her ninth consecutive match of 10 or more kills. The junior, who had 41 kills over the weekend, hit .345 to tally the dozen kills. The outside hitter also led K-State in digs with 12 as she notched her team-best sixth double-double of the year.

Sassin was one of four Wildcat attackers who hit over .300 on double-digit attacks. Alyssa Schultejans (8 kills, 24 swings, .333%), Katie Reininger (9 kills, 20 swings, .350%), and Bryna Vogel (7 kills, 13 swings, .385%) filled out the quartet and helped bring the team attack percentage to its second highest in a match this season. Reininger and Vogel also earned all-tournament honors, with the accolade being the first of Vogel’s career.

Middle Tennessee managed to out-hit K-State in the final set, .440 to .389, but the Wildcats never trailed after the first point. Schultejans’ three aces early in the set allowed K-State to pull away, with the final one making it 5-1. The Blue Raiders went on to close the gap to 11-9; however, a K-State timeout was followed up by a kill from Schultejans to ignite a 5-1 run that stretched the Wildcat lead to 16-10.

Sami Flattum had all four of her kills in the match during the final set, including three over a run that made it 23-16 K-State. Vogel’s seventh and final kill later went down as match point.

Vogel was on the service line to start the match when the Wildcats opened up a 6-0 lead. The fast start for K-State featured three blocks, helping bring the total to nine for the contest, as the Wildcat defense forced Middle Tennessee into eight attack errors and a .053 hitting percentage. On the other side of the net, K-State sided out 92% of the time and had a .406 hitting percentage.

K-State now enters its final weekend of non-conference action in the regular season as it will take part in the Creighton Classic September 18-20. The Wildcats open the weekend against nationally-ranked Wisconsin on September 18 at 3:30 p.m.


NOTES
For the second straight match, K-State did not have any receiving errors. The Wildcats were aced just two times all weekend, their fewest receiving errors over a three-match stretch since September 4-6, 2014 (1). K-State has just four receiving errors over its last six contests.

The Wildcats’ current six-match winning streak is their longest since they won 11 straight from September 4-20, 2014. 

Sassin averaged 4.1 kills and 3.5 digs per set over the weekend. She also hit .299 (41k-12e-97att) and added three aces.

The Wildcats had an attack percentage of .323 over the weekend’s three matches.