Sassin Reaches 1,000 Kills as Wildcats Overpower Sooners


GAME RECAP

1

3

NR
OKLAHOMA
SOONERS
14-13 (5-9 Big 12)

NR
K-STATE
WILDCATS
19-8 (8-6 Big 12)

LEADERS:
Micaela Spann: 16 kills, .394%, 2 blocks
Kimmy Gardiner: 11 kills, .360%, 11 digs
Audrey Alford: 45 assists, 7 digs

LEADERS:
Brooke Sassin: 10 kills, 11 digs, 1 ace
Katie Brand: 51 assists, 5 digs, 4 blocks, 5 kills
Kylee Zumach: 17 kills,  .342%, 3 blocks

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
Oklahoma 25 18 15 21 --
K-State 23 25 25 25 --

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior outside hitter Brooke Sassin notched her 1,000th career kill in the Kansas State volleyball team’s four-set victory (23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-21) over Oklahoma Wednesday night at Ahearn Field House.

Sassin becomes just the sixth player in K-State history to eclipse the 1,000-kill milestone in the rally-scoring era (since 2001). The San Antonio, Texas, native was one of four Wildcats to reach double-figure kills as K-State swept the season series with Oklahoma for the second straight year.

“I think it’s awesome,” Sassin said of reaching her career mark. “To think of all the games and all the teams and all the different girls I’ve played with that have led up to it; it goes by so fast, just like everyone says. It’s crazy to look back, it feels like my first game was yesterday.”

“I was so excited for her,” said redshirt sophomore outside hitter Kylee Zumach. “We both came in at the same time when she transferred from Mississippi State and we have always been close, so I am really happy for her. That is such a big accomplishment.”

“Seeing her do the things that she’s doing now as a senior and the progress that she’s made, it’s incredibly rewarding as her coach,” head coach Suzie Fritz said of Sassin. “That’s her putting in her time and her learning fast and developing as a player. She has such tremendous shot selection; she can kill the ball in a lot of ways. She creates opportunities for herself, even in bad situations, that’s where I think she’s best. She’s really good when it’s really bad.”

After Oklahoma (14-13, 5-9 Big 12) stole the opening set, K-State (19-8, 8-6) retaliated by taking the next three sets for its 11th four-set win of the season, breaking the previous program record of 10 such wins set in 1987. The Wildcats never trailed in the second and third sets as they recorded a higher attacking efficiency than the Sooners in all three set wins.

“I thought we played really well, at times,” Fritz added. “Probably as well as we have played in the last few weeks. A little slow to start, from a defensive perspective. I thought we were okay offensively most of the night. From game two forward, we were really good serving.”

OU tallied 15 kills with just two errors for a hitting percentage of .419 in the first set, its highest efficiency in any set on the night. It was the only set in which K-State was unable to produce a single team block. Still, the Cats leveled the set, 23-23, before the Sooners picked up the final two points.

K-State responded by scoring the first six points of the second set and holding Oklahoma to a .103 (12k-8e-39ta) hitting percentage. The Cats recorded 5.0 team blocks in the frame, led by senior middle blocker Katie Reininger with four. Reininger finished the match with a team-high five blocks.

“Defensive upgrade,” said Fritz on the biggest difference after the opening-set loss. “The combination of serve, block, dig; that was probably the biggest upgrade and the difference in regards to us slowing them down.

“That’s the kill leader in the league,” Fritz said, talking about Oklahoma’s offense. “So we have to feel pretty good about slowing that down a little bit. Good teams are going to find ways to get kills and they’re one of them. They’re very productive offensively.”

In the third set, K-State again jumped quickly, leading 10-4 and an 8-1 run midway through the game gave the Cats an 18-8 advantage and finished the set, 25-15. As a team, K-State hit a single-set high .444 (14k-2e-27ta) as five players picked up multiple kills, led by Sassin’s four.

K-State rattled off five straight points in the final set to take an 8-4 lead and would never trail in the match again on its way to closing out the match, 25-21. Zumach produced six of her match-high 17 kills in the final set and again five Wildcats tallied multiple kills in the set.

“It’s good, we want balance,” Fritz said of her offense. “I think we could get even more of it, frankly, I think we could distribute even a little bit more. Kylee [Zumach] stepped up, I thought both of the middles were really good and I thought Kate [Brand] did a great job of keeping everybody involved.”

Zumach (17), Reininger (11), Sassin (10) and junior Bryna Vogel (10) all reached double-digit kills. Sassin added 11 digs for her seventh double-double of the season.

Senior libero Kersten Kober collected a match-high 15 digs and tied her career-best output with three service aces.

Senior Katie Brand handed out 51 assists and added five kills and five digs. The 6-1 setter now has 10 50-assist matches this season.

Kansas State look to avenge a five-set loss earlier this year as they square off with No. 7 Texas Saturday in Austin. First serve is slated for 7 p.m., and the match will be broadcast nationally on the Longhorn Network. Fans can listen to Rob Voelker call the match on local radio on 1350 KMAN and at k-statesports.com.

NOTES

·         K-State has now won the last four meetings with Oklahoma and OU leads the all-time series, 53-32-1, dating back to 1975.

·         K-State is now 17-19 at home vs. the Sooners while head coach Suzie Fritz improves her record against Oklahoma to 19-13.

·         K-State won its 11th four-set match this season, breaking the previous program record of 10 set in 1987.

·         Sassin reached 1,000 career kills in just three seasons after transferring from Mississippi State. Sassin has at least 300 kills in every season as a Wildcat.

·         The Wildcats finished the night hitting .333 (62k-19e-129ta) while Oklahoma ended with a .264 (50k-17e-125) efficiency. The Cats’ .333 percentage is its highest in their last 15 matches.

·         With nine kills, freshman Elle Sandbothe has at least five kills in six matches.

Kober leads all Wildcats with 24 double-figure dig matches and has led the team in digs in 16 of 27 matches.