Wildcats Rally from behind to Beat Beavers

Caitlyn Donahue

Aug. 25, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Last season, the K-State volleyball team thrived in five-set matches going 8-1. The Wildcats kept that trend going on Saturday night as they found themselves trailing the Oregon State Beavers 2-1 and battled from behind to get the victory and win the Varney's Invitational.

The first four sets were all dramatic, nail-biters with the first going to extra points and the others decided 25-23 before K-State got the win 26-24, 23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-8. K-State grabbed the momentum with a run of five straight points in the fourth set and kept applying the pressure.

Trailing 14-18 in the fourth set, a kill by Kaitlynn Pelger sparked the rally. Kuulei Kabalis went to the service line and was able to keep the Beavers out of system with her serve and her teammates put kills away to take a 19-18 lead and force an Oregon State timeout.

In the fifth set, K-State jumped to a 4-1 lead only to see Oregon State battle right back and tie it. Then a 6-0 run by the Wildcats opened the door for K-State to win the match.

"Tests like that are enormous because when you get into those situations later on if you have been there a few times, it helps your confidence," said K-State Head Coach Suzie Fritz. "This team found ways to win five-game sets last year and they have a special quality about them."

The tandem of Pelger and Lilla Porubek took control of the match in the fourth set for K-State as they combined for 43 of the Wildcats' 76 kills. Pelger led the team in kills and digs with 22 put-aways and 17 digs for her first double-double of the season. Porubek posted 21 kills and hit .275 on the night. Pelger was an efficient .370 hitting.

Setter Caitlyn Donahue came up with big plays for the Wildcats when they needed to keep a ball alive and she also got involved on the offense attacking the Beavers for four kills. She also had 15 digs to go with her 59 assists as she directed the Wildcats to a team hitting percentage of .224.

Oregon State spread its offense around for the match as four players reached double digits in kills. The Beavers were led by Camille Saxton and Laura Schaudt with 13 apiece. Arica Nassar added 12, and Ashley Eneliko posted 11.

K-State's defense shined late in the match as well limiting Oregon to hitting percentages of .200 and .107 in the fourth and fifth sets, respectively. The Wildcats saw four players post double digits in digs led by Pelger. Senior libero Kuulei Kabalis tallied 16 and Donahue followed with 15. Tristan McCarty added 14 to the winning effort.

Three Wildcats were recognized for their efforts over the two days at the Varney's Invitational being named to the All-Tournament Team. Donahue was named the tournament MVP averaging 11.18 assists per set and 3.00 digs. Pelger averaged 3.64 kills on a .344 percentage to go with 2.82 digs. Porubek tallied 3.80 kills hitting .325.

Next up for the Wildcats will be a trip to Omaha, Neb., to play in the Bluejay Invitational hosted by Creighton. K-State will take on the host Bluejays next Saturday after facing Denver on Friday afternoon. The Wildcats will also face Syracuse on Saturday.

Varney's Invitational All-Tournament Team
Caitlyn Donahue, K-State - MVP
Kaitlynn Pelger, K-State
Lilla Porubek, K-State
Camille Saxton, Oregon State
Ashley Eneliko, Oregon State
Aly Squires, UC Irvine